Google on Friday threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the government went ahead with plans to make tech giants pay for news content. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison quickly hit back, saying, "We don't respond to threats," per the AP. "Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia," Morrison told reporters in Brisbane. "That's done in our Parliament. It's done by our government. And that's how things work here in Australia." The confrontation highlights Australia's leading role in the global movement to push back against the outsize influence of US tech giants over the news business. Morrison's comments came after Mel Silva, the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate inquiry into the bill that the new rules would be 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 senators. “And that would be a bad outcome not only for us, but also for the Australian people, media diversity, and the small businesses who use our products every day.” The code of conduct proposed by the government aims to make Google and Facebook pay Australian media companies fairly for using news content the tech giants siphon from news sites. As in many other countries, Google dominates internet searches in Australia. Facebook also opposes the rules and has threatened to remove news stories from its site in Australia. Simon Milner, a Facebook vice president, said the sheer volume of deals it would have to strike would be unworkable. (Read more Google stories.)