Google Threatens To Pull Out Of Australia Entirely; Australians Demand That It Both Stay And Pay News Orgs For Giving Them Traffic
from the how-does-this-make-any-sense dept
For the last year, we’ve been highlighting how Australia’s rush to create a Google News tax is so stupid. It follows similar efforts in Europe and a few other places, where newspapers that spent years dismissing the internet and doing little to adapt, are now whining that Google is… sending them free traffic and not paying them for it.
It’s truly bizarre. Google sends lots of traffic to news organizations. Tons of news organizations employ search engine optimization experts who work hard to get even more traffic from Google. But… around the globe, many of them are demanding that Google also pay them for sending them traffic. Back in 2014, Google shut down its Google News offering in Spain when that country passed a similar law. Over the past few months, Google has tried to explain to Australian officials just how incredibly stupid this plan is, but Australian officials (and the newspaper lobbyists down under) don’t seem to care.
Last week, Google finally pulled out the nuclear option, saying that it might just pull out of Australia entirely if the law passes. That’s an even bigger threat than the one Facebook made a few months back, when it claimed it would likely block the ability of anyone in Australia to share news on Facebook. But Google says it may shut down entirely in Australia:
?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.?
Australian officials flipped out that a private company that they’re looking to tax at ridiculous levels might… no longer want to do business in their country. The country’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, claimed that the country won’t “respond to threats,” but his administration seems to have no problem issuing more threats. Australia’s Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said that it’s “inevitable” that Google and Facebook will have to pay news organizations for daring to send them free traffic.
Frydenberg also claims that Australia can be a “world leader” in passing such legislation, apparently totally ignorant of how many times other countries have already passed similar legislation, and how poorly it’s gone. The Bloomberg article there mentions that pulling out of Australia would open up the market to competitors, but that assumes any of them would want to pay the pointless news tax as well.
The hubris level here remains astounding. Google and Facebook send these companies traffic. For free. It’s free advertising. These news orgs hire experts to help them perform better on Google and Facebook. And now they want to be paid for it too? While politicians are pulling out the fainting couch in saying “how dare” Google and Facebook threaten to block the entire country, perhaps they might want to look more closely at why they’re driving away these successful companies that their citizens (and constituents) clearly like using.