Alphabet Incs Google said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a new code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for the right to use their content.
Googles threat escalates a battle with publishers such as News Corp that is being closely watched around the world. The search giant had warned that its 19 million Australian users would face degraded search and YouTube experiences if the new code were enforced.
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. If they cannot strike a deal, a governmentappointed arbitrator will decide the price.
Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk 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, Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a senate committee.
Silva made no mention of YouTube in prepared remarks, as the video service is expected to be exempted under revisions to the code last month.
Googles comments drew a sharp rebuke from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said the country makes its rules for things you can do in Australia.
People who want to work with that in Australia, youre very welcome. But we dont respond to threats, Morrison told reporters.
At the inquiry, Australian…