Greens Senator grills Google boss over ‘hell of a threat’ to remove search function

Published on January 22, 2021 by

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young grilled Google boss Melanie Silva for threatening to shut down Google search in Australia in a bid to avoid paying for news content.

Google Australia Managing Director Melanie Silva told a Senate committee hearing on Friday the company would leave the Australian market if the proposed news media bargaining code goes ahead.

The code seeks to force digital giants to pay media outlets for news content on their platforms or face fines of up to $10 million.

“You’ve come here this morning and told us that only 1.25 of search result are news, and yet if this legislation passes, you’ll shut down news for everybody, for everything across the country,” Ms Hanson-Young said.

“That’s a hell of a threat and it doesn’t seem to add up with facts that you’ve presented yourself about the impact this would have just on news content in Australia.

“Why come here and threaten the Australian people with cutting off all their search results because you haven’t been able to negotiate?

“You’ve come to this inquiry, you’ve argued that what is before us as legislation won’t work for you. Effectively you’re saying it’s Google’s way or the highway.”

Ms Silva responded, the threat to make the Google search unviable in Australia was “the worst case scenario”.

She maintained the proposed code sets “an untenable precedent” which placing the workings of the company at risk.

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