“We don’t respond to threats” Australia’s Prime Minister strikes back at Google
Google has threatened to stop running its search engines in Australia if the government persists with a draft bill that would force the tech giant to share some of its revenues with publishers.
Viper lobbyists have been dispatched to blast the brave new policy, but true to form, the Australian Government is sticking to its guns.
“Let me be clear. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference. “That’s done in our parliament. It’s done by our government and that’s how things work here in Australia and people who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome.
“But we don’t respond to threats.”
Morrison was answering Google’s threat, delivered by Australia boss, Mel Silva, who told a Senate committee the proposals were “unworkable”.
“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,” Silva told lawmakers.
“That would be a bad outcome not just for us, but for the Australian people, media diversity and small businesses who use Google Search.”
Facebook also had a representative at the committee hearing who joined Silva in pushing back on the proposals.
Big Tech’s Australia skirmish follows lethal blows meted out by digital giants to political figures and organisations situated outside of the globalist left band of the political spectrum.
In recent weeks Donald Trump has been banned from Twitter, and Facebook has suspended his account. Google and Apple have blocked right-leaning social media platform Parler from their app stores. Yesterday, Facebook shut down the UK Socialist Workers Party.
Aside from the political battles they are now waging, monopolistic digital corporations are already deeply entrenched in a war to protect the massive revenues they generate for themselves from content published online.
Australia already has a “code” in place governing how tech companies like Google operate, but the plans to strengthen the code and share some of the profits are not acceptable, says the tech giant.
Under the new version of the code, revenues from data and advertising would be shared with the media. The exact percentage would be open to negotiation and limited to certain media outlets. The Australian authorities would step in if a figure could not be agreed after three months of talks.
“The free service we offer Australian users, and our business model, has been built on the ability to link freely between websites,” Silva told members of the Senate committee, dismissing publishers’ rights to be compensated for web users accessing “links and snippets”.
Facebook argues the Australian media is too closed and diverting revenues to established outlets like Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and the Guardian would only have a “deterrent effect” on investment in emerging publishers.
“The code will benefit Murdoch. It will also benefit Guardian, ABC & SBS [the Australian broadcasters], your local paper and other media outlets,” tweeted Belinda Barnet, a media and communications lecturer at Swinburne University in Melbourne.
“The internet is not open anymore. It is controlled by a couple of global monopolies who make their money from your data.
“The internet was once more open, it was once a more equal and democratic space, but that era is over.”
All the more reason for powerful legislation to curb Big Tech.