Can you imagine loading up Google’s search page and there’s nothing there? Or how about the Google Search bar disappearing from the home screen on Android devices? In Australia, it may just happen in the very near future.
As Reuters reports, Google is threatening to disable its search service in Australia if forced to pay media companies for news. The Australian government is on course to pass a new law that would result in companies such as Google and Facebook having to negotiate with publishers and broadcasts before their content could be included in search results or news feeds. Faced with having to pay for news or not including the relevant results, Google is opting for no results at all if this goes ahead.
“Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” said Melanie Silva, Managing Director and VP, Google Australia & New Zealand.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison views such talk as a threat and said, “People who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.” Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology, commented that Google’s testimony “is part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy.”
Google’s threat could backfire spectacularly for the company if the law is passed and Google Search ceases to work in Australia. There are a number of other search services available and ready to take its place (Bing and DuckDuckGo are two prime examples), and users would ultimately adapt. The knock-on effect could be other countries becoming emboldened to follow the Australian government in passing new, similar laws.