Google threatens to end search services in Australia over pending legislation

Google is fighting with Australia's government and has threatened to remove its search engine from the country if legislation passes that would force companies to negotiate payments with news media companies for listing their content in search results. Facebook has also threatened to remove news from its feeds inside Australia. If Google made good on its threat, 19 million Australians might no longer be able to use Google search.

Facebook users would no longer be able to read news articles on their social media pages. The legislation the two social media giants are fighting against is currently in front of the Australian Parliament. If it passes, companies would be forced to enter negotiations with news media companies to pay for content. If no agreement could be made between the social media outlet and the media company, an arbitrator would decide the payment amount.

Google delivered an ultimatum to the Australian government on Friday, saying it would not be viable to continue offering search in Australia if the legislation moves ahead. Google Australia managing director Mel Silva told a Senate committee that the proposed news code was "untenable" and would set a dangerous precedent for paying for links. Silva said that the principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to search.

Silva also said that if the legislation passed, it would be financially unmanageable and an operational risk giving Google no choice but to stop making its search service available in Australia. She did say that withdrawing from Australia was the last thing Google wants to do. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the government won't respond to threats.

He made it clear that parliament in Australia makes the rules for what you can do in Australia companies who want to operate there will follow them. Facebook said if the legislation passes, it would potentially prevent not only news companies from posting links to news articles but all users based in Australia.