The most controversial part of the law would require Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with media companies if they cannot reach agreement over the value of their content within three months.(REUTERS)
The most controversial part of the law would require Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with media companies if they cannot reach agreement over the value of their content within three months.(REUTERS)

Google threatens to block its search engine in Australia over media law

  • Under the laws, the firms would be required to compensate Australian media outlets, ranging from Rupert Murdoch's giant News Corp to public broadcasters ABC and SBS, for publishing snippets of their content in search results.
AFP, Canberra
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 09:28 AM IST

Google threatened Friday to block Australians from using its search service unless the government changed landmark legislation to make the internet giant pay news outlets for their content.

Google Australia managing director Mel Silva warned a Senate committee in Canberra that the world-first media law was "unworkable" and would undermine the functioning of the internet.

"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 said, the first time the company has made such a threat after months of difficult negotiations over the draft law.

The legislation was introduced last year to force Google and Facebook to pay local media organisations to host news content or face millions of dollars in fines, in one of the most aggressive moves globally to check the power of the US tech giants.

Under the laws, the firms would be required to compensate Australian media outlets, ranging from Rupert Murdoch's giant News Corp to public broadcasters ABC and SBS, for publishing snippets of their content in search results.

The most controversial part of the law would require Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with media companies if they cannot reach agreement over the value of their content within three months.

The arbiter would then choose between the payment proposal put forward by a news outlet and that coming from the tech firm.

"This provision in the code would set an untenable precedent for our business and the digital economy," Silva said Friday. "It is not compatible with how search engines work or now the internet works."

The law would also require the platforms to give the news businesses two weeks' notice of algorithm changes affecting the distribution of their content, and includes punitive clauses to stop the firms from blocking content to avoid payment.

Google and Facebook have been backed in their opposition to the law by the US government and internet architects including Tim Berners-Lee.

The initiative has been closely watched around the globe, as news media worldwide have suffered in an increasingly digital economy where big tech firms overwhelmingly capture advertising revenue.

Efforts to confront the tech firms on behalf of beleaguered news media in Europe have focused mainly on copyright law and have had some limited success.

But the Australian law relies on antitrust provisions and would have a more far-reaching financial impact on Google and Facebook.

'Don't respond to threats'

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose conservative government has heeded demands by the country's biggest news organisations to crack down on the tech firms, responded sharply to the threat by Google, by far the dominant search engine in the country.

"Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That's done in our parliament," Morrison said. "People who want to work with that in Australia, you're very welcome, but we don't respond to threats."

At Friday's hearing, Facebook similarly labelled the code "unworkable" in its current form and said it would cause the social media platform to stop publishing Australian news.

"The great majority of people who are using Facebook would continue to be able to do so, but we would no longer be able to provide news," Facebook's Simon Milner told the hearing.

Both companies stressed that they were willing to pay media companies for their content through various direct arrangements, including in products like Facebook News and Google News Showcase.

And they proposed a series of amendments to the draft Australian law to avoid a showdown.

"Withdrawing our services from Australia is the last thing that Google wants to have happen, especially when there is another way forward," Silva said.

"There is a clear pathway to a fair and workable code, with only slight amendments," she said.

The key change demanded by the companies is to drop the mandatory arbitration process in favour of mediated negotiations with individual news organisations.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
The police recovered a 67-page-long suicide note from the crime scene which revealed the murderer’s intention to kill more people.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/representative use)
The police recovered a 67-page-long suicide note from the crime scene which revealed the murderer’s intention to kill more people.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/representative use)

Newspaper photographer attacked, seriously hurt in France

AP, Paris
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:54 PM IST
The newspaper L'Union said Sunday that Christian Lantenois, 65, was in a serious but stable condition at a hospital in Reims in northeast France.
Close
The Soyuz spacecraft with the Arktika-M satellite blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.(via REUTERS)
The Soyuz spacecraft with the Arktika-M satellite blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.(via REUTERS)

Russia launches space satellite Arktika-M to monitor climate in Arctic

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Reuters
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:44 PM IST
The Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average over the last three decades and Moscow is seeking to develop the energy-rich region.
Close
Nasa astronauts Hopkins and Victor Glover finish a four-year effort to upgrade the ISS power system during a spacewalk on February 1, 2021. (AFP / File)
Nasa astronauts Hopkins and Victor Glover finish a four-year effort to upgrade the ISS power system during a spacewalk on February 1, 2021. (AFP / File)

Spacewalking Nasa astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | AP, Cape Canaveral
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:40 PM IST
  • With more people and experiments flying on the space station, more power will be needed to keep everything running, according to Nasa.
Close
A logo of China's vaccine specialist Cansino Biologics Inc is pictured in Tianjin. (REUTERS FILE)
A logo of China's vaccine specialist Cansino Biologics Inc is pictured in Tianjin. (REUTERS FILE)

China rolls out first locally made single-dose Covid vaccine

By Sutritho Patranobis I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:40 PM IST
The vaccine was jointly developed by Cansino Biologics, a Tianjin-based private company, and researchers from the Institute of Military Medicine under the Academy of Military Sciences led by scientist, Chen Wei.
Close
AstraZeneca's vaccines are ready for Corona vaccination at a vaccination center.(AP)
AstraZeneca's vaccines are ready for Corona vaccination at a vaccination center.(AP)

Australia receives first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines

ANI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:16 PM IST
In addition to AstraZeneca's jabs, Australia also has greenlighted the use of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine, and expects the arrival of 20 million doses this year. Vaccinations using Pfizer's shots started in the country a week ago.
Close
People can get desirable protective effect after 14 days of inoculation.(AFP)
People can get desirable protective effect after 14 days of inoculation.(AFP)

China rolls out first one-jab Covid-19 vaccine: Report

PTI, Beijing
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 05:13 PM IST
Phase-I clinical trials of the vaccine started on March 16, last year, making it the world's first Covid-19 candidate vaccine that entered clinical trials.
Close
This image released by Briarcliff Entertainment shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, with journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the documentary "The Dissident."(AP)
This image released by Briarcliff Entertainment shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, with journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the documentary "The Dissident."(AP)

'Vindication of Prince': Saudi commentators thank Biden for report on Khashoggi

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:55 PM IST
Prince Mohammed has denied involvement in the Khashoggi killing, while saying he accepts symbolic responsibility as the country’s de facto ruler.
Close
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.(AP)
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.(AP)

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny reaches penal colony to serve prison term

Reuters, Moscow
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:50 PM IST
Navalny's ally Leonid Volkov said on social media earlier on Sunday that Navalny's family and lawyers had not been officially informed about his whereabouts.
Close
Conference attendees pose for a photo next to a statue of former president Donald Trump at the merchandise show at the CPAC.(AP)
Conference attendees pose for a photo next to a statue of former president Donald Trump at the merchandise show at the CPAC.(AP)

Trump to make first post-presidential speech at CPAC 2021. When and how to watch

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kunal Gaurav
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:47 PM IST
  • The conservative lawmakers, activists, and GOP officials have been converging in Orlando, Florida, to attend the annual conference.
Close
Amnesty says it will continue to campaign for Navalny’s release. It denies being influenced by an orchestrated propaganda campaign, though it acknowledges old comments have resurfaced more frequently of late. “As a matter of principle, we cannot ignore the evidence before us,” the group said in a statement.(AP)
Amnesty says it will continue to campaign for Navalny’s release. It denies being influenced by an orchestrated propaganda campaign, though it acknowledges old comments have resurfaced more frequently of late. “As a matter of principle, we cannot ignore the evidence before us,” the group said in a statement.(AP)

Amnesty International revokes Navalny's 'prisoner of conscience' status

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:36 PM IST
The group initially referred to Navalny as a prisoner of conscience after his arrest last month, and then had second thoughts after concerns were raised over whether past comments qualified as advocating hatred.
Close
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for girls education who miraculously survived a bullet to the head from the militant Taliban in October 2012.(REUTERS Photo)
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for girls education who miraculously survived a bullet to the head from the militant Taliban in October 2012.(REUTERS Photo)

My dream is to see India and Pakistan become 'true good friends', says Malala

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:33 PM IST
The 23-year-old activist also raised her voice for minorities across the world and said they are at "risk" and need to be protected globally by governments.
Close
Nine Congress activists, including the husband and son of the party candidate, have been booked for murder and criminal conspiracy. While the husband has been arrested, a search is on for the son. (Representative image)
Nine Congress activists, including the husband and son of the party candidate, have been booked for murder and criminal conspiracy. While the husband has been arrested, a search is on for the son. (Representative image)

Russian helicopter crash-lands in Syria, 1 crew member killed, several wounded

Posted by Prashasti Singh | AP, Beirut
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:22 PM IST
The Russian Defense Ministry said a Russian Mi-35 helicopter made an emergency landing for technical reasons while patrolling Hassakeh province.
Close
Britain's Prince Harry gestures in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London. (AP)
Britain's Prince Harry gestures in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London. (AP)

Will 'never walk away' from royal family, says Prince Harry

ANI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:18 PM IST
Last Friday, Buckingham Palace confirmed that Harry and Meghan will not be returning as working royals.
Close
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks at the House of Commons in London, Britain January 11, 2021. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT(via REUTERS)
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks at the House of Commons in London, Britain January 11, 2021. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT(via REUTERS)

UK's Sunak says Covid vaccine passport idea might help the economy

Reuters, London
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:15 PM IST
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that the government would hold a review to consider about using vaccine certificates.
Close
Last year China's direct investment to Australia focused on just 20 projects in three sectors -- real estate, mining and manufacturing -- the fewest in a decade.(AP)
Last year China's direct investment to Australia focused on just 20 projects in three sectors -- real estate, mining and manufacturing -- the fewest in a decade.(AP)

Chinese investment in Australia plunges due to souring relation, Covid-19 impact

AFP
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:04 PM IST
Data from the Australian National University released Sunday showed direct investment plunged to US$800 million last year, from US$2.05 billion in 2019.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP