Mel Silva, right, the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, appears via a video link during a Senate inquiry into a mandatory code of conduct proposed by the Australian government. (Photo: AP-Yonhap News)
Google has threatened to make its search engine unavailable in Australia if the government pushes ahead with legislation to make tech giants pay for news content.
Mel Silva, the managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, told a Senate inquiry into the bill Friday that the new rules would be unworkable, explaining that their "biased arbitration model" also posed unmanageable financial and operational risks for the company.
She said, "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."
But Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison quickly hit back, saying "we don't respond to threats."
Morrison told reporters, "Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That's done in our Parliament. It's done by our government. And that's how things work here in Australia."
Silva said Google was willing to pay a wide and diverse group of news publishers for the value they added, but not under the rules proposed, which included payments for links and snippets.
Like in many other countries, Google dominates internet searches, and according to Silva, about 95 percent of searches in Australia are done through Google.
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