Australia is proposing to bring in a new media bargaining code.
Thank you, Senators, for your time.
The legislation is now being debated by the Australian Senate, but it enjoys bipartisan support and is expected to be voted on, and most likely passed, early this year.
Milner told lawmakers there was already a "deterrent effect of this law on investment in the Australian news industry", citing a recent decision by Facebook to launch a news product in the United Kingdom instead of Australia.
Australia is on course to pass laws that would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds. No one pays to include a hyperlink in an email, and so websites and search engines do not pay to provide links to other websites.
Google says it will shut down its search engine in Australia if a controversial bill created to benefit the news media becomes law. It's not compatible with how search engines work, or how the internet works, and this is not just Google's view - it has been cited in numerous submissions received by this Inquiry.
Silva gave a statement to the panel of senators saying if this particular version of the code were eventually to become a law, it would then give them no real choice but to completely stop Google Search being available in Australia. But in the context of Search - the ability to show results from a diverse range of news sources is equally as important as the ability to show results to a diverse range of childcare centers in your suburb. The dispute could have a huge impact on how Australians search for information online. This includes Rupert Murdoch's News Corp that has reportedly been struggling to adapt towards the digital economy. "The ability to link freely, meaning without limitations regarding the content of the linked site and without monetary fees, is fundamental to how the web operates". It was also stated that Australia makes its own rules for certain things that they can do in Australia.
He said Facebook derived nearly no commercial benefit from having news content on its platform. The search giant had warned that its 19 million Australian users would face degraded search and YouTube experiences if the new code were enforced. Faced with having to pay for news or not including the relevant results, Google is opting for no results at all if this goes ahead.
"The code's arbitration model with bias criteria presents unmanageable financial and operational risk for Google", Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a senate committee. Google alleges that the Code also has an unfair arbitration process and that the 14-day algorithm notification required (under Section 52S, 52T, and 52U) will give news publishers special treatment.
"There is a clear pathway to a fair and workable code, with only slight amendments", Silva said.
Facebook has also voiced similar concerns, describing the code as "unworkable" in its current form and stating that it would force Facebook to stop publishing Australian news.