Could Google and Facebook pull out of Australia?

Posted on January 22, 2021


The News media bargaining code, which was introduced to Australian parliament last month, has certainly sent shockwaves through the internet – way beyond Australia itself.

The web’s inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, says it “risks breaching a fundamental principle” of the internet, and it has led two of the world’s biggest tech firms to threaten drastic changes to the way they operate in the country. In Google’s case, it has today hinted at pulling its services out of Australia entirely, while Facebook stresses it may have to stop Australians sharing news via its platform.

The reason these two digital giants are threatening these actions is because the code would require them to pay for the news content they share. Effectively, they would be seen as publishers, and would have to negotiate a fee for content that appears on them. Though this legislation has its critics, it appears to be supported by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who says the nation doesn’t “respond to threats”, while pro-internet regulation group Reset Australia accuses Google of behaving like a “brat”.

Google’s services are used by 19 million Australians, and although those numbers in themselves are no small fry, the company is probably more concerned about the precedent it could set if it complies with Australia’s code. By warning of the prospect of withdrawing services, it is trying to get this legislation to fall at the first hurdle and dissuade any other nations from introducing anything similar.

It all feels a bit like loud dirty linen at the moment, and I suspect some sort of negotiation will be reached in time. However, especially for companies with clients or customers in Australia, like ourselves at Engage Web, it is something to keep an eye on. Perhaps if such codes are the future of the internet, it will become all the more important for companies to create their own high-quality content. This something we can do for you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch for all your content needs.

John Murray
  • […] row centres on Australia’s “News media bargaining code”, which we’ve written about previously. In essence, it treats companies like Facebook and Google as publishers and requires them to pay […]

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