Australia is introducing a landmark law to make Google, Facebook, and other tech companies pay media outlets for their news content.
Google dominates the search engine market with a nearly 90% market share in most parts of the world. Almost all its revenue is from ads. If this law were passed, Google has said it would likely have to pull its search engines from the country.
The U.S. tech giants have fought back, arguing the laws are onerous and would damage local access to services. Australian PM Scott Morrison said lawmakers would not yield to ‘threats.’
The proposed news code would tie Google and Facebook to mediated negotiations with publishers over news content value if no agreement could be reached first.
Google Australia managing director Mel Silva told a Senate hearing on Friday that the laws were “unworkable,” BBC News reported.
The government argues that Google is “a near-essential utility” with little market competition. Revenues from the print media have seen a 75% decline in advertising revenue since 2005.
U.S. trade representatives oppose the law, but some believe they are too close to the Big Tech giants; their concern is that Google would lose money.
Ms. Silva said the laws would set “an untenable precedent for our businesses and the digital economy” if the company had to pay for link and search results. This was not compatible with the free-flowing share of information online or “how the internet works,” she argued, the BBC reported.
WE SIDE WITH GOOGLE IN THIS CASE
Google has offered to assist the print media and other outlets financially: This is a good thing.
They have a virtual monopoly on the news market, and we have often argued that they have engaged in suppression and censorship tactics in the U.S. election. But we have never said they do not provide an essential service otherwise. Australians use Google for more purposes than reviewing news stories; their service is needed. The struggling news outlets should take the money.
This is not to say that countries should avert their eyes from suppression and censorship issues; our liberties are threatened when Big Tech controls the exchange of ideas.