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Google Search may become unavailable in Australia over journalism compensation row

The ubiquitous Search bar might disappear in the Australian market. (Source: Google)
The ubiquitous Search bar might disappear in the Australian market. (Source: Google)
Millions of people search for news on Google or Facebook; therefore, those tech behemoths should pay media outlets for their content. At least, this is the Australian government's position in a dispute with the companies in question. Google has responded by threatening to deprive the country of its Search service.

Traditional news media has faltered with the rise of online search services, with those who adapted early on and got themselves searchable doing best. Newspaper advertising revenues in Australia, for example, have fallen steadily since 2008, whereas that of Google hit US$7.7 million in the same market in 2019 alone.

Therefore, the Australian government reasons, Google (and Facebook) should pay a "fair price" for content from news companies based in that country if it is accessed through their search services. The administration - led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison - intends to enforce this principle with new legislation.

Google Australia, on the other hand, has slammed the proposed new regulations as "unworkable" and has strongly hinted at the response of shutting its ever-present Search facility down for that country. On the other hand, the Mountain View giant's stance is more than slightly compromised as it has also just agreed a deal with the French media interest group APIG to do more or less what Australia wants.

This may be one reason why the government's treasurer Josh Frydenberg asserts that it is "inevitable" Google backs down and agrees to the new remuneration codes. Then again, some proponents of the internet as it is and have evolved, such as its originator Tim Berners-Lee, argue that Australia's planned regulations would have a severe impact on online life as we currently know it.

In addition, it is possible that proposals such as that of Australia do not work out as it hopes, and ends in a situation wherein tech companies only show the news content they are prepared to fund. On that note, the agreement with APIG in its current form reportedly involves no form of impartial oversight: Google is only paying for the content displayed in its own News Showcase platform. Then again, it is not like there is only one search engine in town.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 01 > Google Search may become unavailable in Australia over journalism compensation row
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2021-01-24 (Update: 2021-01-24)