Effects on Australia be affected if Google carries out its threat to withdraw its services to Australia

So this is a very complicated political issue between Google and the Australian government:

For years Google has been linking news articles from Australian media websites, like they do elsewhere across the globe, to provide news to its users. And this is done for free. Basically all you need is the Google search engine.

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However all the big newspapers, namely the ones owned by News Corp but also the Fairfax ones (now part of NINE), have been introducing paywalls to make users subscribe for their news service. They’ve done this because once upon a time, long before the internet came into being, these media companies used to sell these things:

This is called a newspaper and they would sell by the hundreds of thousands across the nation every day, for a nominal amount in cash, to anyone who wanted to read the news. Needless to say all the media companies now miss out on this revenue and they can’t rely solely on advertising.

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But Google has come along and, even with the paywalls in place, makes the same news article free should you use Google instead of the media homepage.

Consequentially complaints went into the Australian government to make Google pay for the news articles which they where using. The government took up their cause, otherwise they would turn on the Australian government if they didn’t, and so ordered Google to pay. Google said no so hence we have legislation coming which would legally force them to do so whether they liked it or not.

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So now we’ve got to an important issue, over this whole affair, and that is a sovereign government has been basically threatened with blackmail by Google. This is actually extremely serious where a foreign corporation is trying to force a national government, one democratically elected by its population, to obey Google’s demands.

I’ve got to say that the sheer arrogance by Google is astonishing. And yet, ironically, in order to do business with China, they were more than happy to adapt to Chinese requirements, but essentially they’re prepared to dictate their terms to a democratic nation in the most tyrannical way.

Now I’m no fan of the current Coalition Government, and our PM is worthless IMHO, but on this occasion they really need to call Google’s bluff here and force through the legislation making them pay for the articles which, for all intents and purposes, are being stolen from the media companies. If I’ve got to pay for them then Google should as well.

Google and Australia

So the ball is now firmly in Google’s court. Do they continue to dictate terms to the Australian government, which they have no right to do so, and continue with their threat to block their search engine to Australian users or back down?

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Well let them shut it down as far as I’m concerned. Google has to remember there’s plenty of other search engines out there which Australians can use.

Needless to say they’ll lose, and this is a far more important point, all the advertising revenue and so forth from 26 million very avid internet users which would amount to BILLIONS of dollars going elsewhere. And thus other search engines, whether it be Bing or Yahoo, will benefit from Google’s arrogance and stupidity.

google

Of course for Google this is all kind of like a test case. If the Australian government remains firm, and few if any miss Google, then other countries around the world, far more strategic than Australia, especially in terms of revenue, will follow Australia’s lead and bring in similar legislation forcing Google to pay for the news articles which they use from local media companies.

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So there’s a lot at stake for Google and every sovereign nation on the planet as to who gets to decide which entity really is in charge of both domestic and foreign policy when it comes to international corporate affairs, control, and above all accountability.

Note this isn’t just about internet usage. And even though governments, especially democratic ones have their flaws, I’d rather see them prevail here rather than some megacorporation which I have zero say in. At least I can help to vote a government out of office. I can’t do a thing about Google.

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