Technology

Google may shut off search function rather than pay for news content

Google may shut off search function rather than pay for news content
Google is considering switching off its search function for Australian users as local news organisations fight for their content to be paid for.
The tech giant's Australian managing editor Mel Silva said it was prepared to exit the Australian market over a proposed media bargaining code.
"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," she told a Senate inquiry.
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Google is currently profiting off Australian news outlets without paying for it. (AP)
"Now that would be a bad outcome for us, but also for the Australian people, media diversity, and the small businesses who use our products every day."
"It's not a threat. It's a reality."
One of the largest companies in the world, Google has an estimated value of more than a trillion dollars.
News organisations in Australia have accused Google and Facebook of profiting off their content without paying anything for it.
The Senate economics committee is examining the Federal Government's proposed media bargaining code bill.
Google Australia Managing Director Mel Silva at the Google Pyrmont offices in Sydney. (Kate Geraghty/The Sydney Morning Herald)
The legislation aims to force digital platforms to pay media companies for news content, and follows a 12-month review into Google and Facebook by the competition watchdog.
Google and Facebook will also give evidence, before representatives from Nine, the publisher of this website, News Corp, Guardian Australia and the AAP.
The inquiry will also hear from Free TV Australia, the ABC and SBS, and the ACCC.
You can livestream the hearing at 9news.com.au.
Nine's Chief Digital and Publishing Officer, Chris Janz, said regulation was crucial.
"Without an effective code, there simply won't be the money to employ the journalists we have working in Australian media companies today," Mr Janz told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"They built the services they have today off the back of our content. If they hadn't had unfettered and free access to our content, they would not have become the monopolies they are today."
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Google carpet at the entrance hall of Google France in Paris. (AP)
Mr Janz also highlighted Google's recent decision to temporarily remove some Australian news content in search results.
Google said this was an 'experiment' ... 'to measure the impacts of news businesses and Google search on each other'.
"They effectively wiped local news off the face of the internet with one decision made out of California. They have power and they are not afraid to use it," Mr Janz added.
Google and Facebook executive will also give evidence at the hearing, where they will argue against the code. Google claims the proposed code will "break the way Google search works".
Federal Parliament is expected to vote on the bill early this year after the committee delivers its report on February 12.