Australia's Google plan unfeasible, says lawyer

As the Australian government forges ahead with a measure that could force Google out of the country, one lawyer says the proposed code could actually hurt the news publishers it was supposedly intended to protect.

Australia's high-profile legal standoff with the tech giant stems from a proposed measure that would force Google and Facebook to pay news companies to use their content, which drives web traffic to their platforms.

Google said last Friday (January it would block its search engine in Australia if the move were to go ahead.

But Australian lawyer Hannah Marshall says it's not just the idea of paying news companies that has Google all riled up.

"It's the part of the definition which says they must pay to link to the news content, which is really causing all the problems at the moment."

Calling the proposal quote "absurd," Marshall says it would be unfeasible for the tech giant, and it would be harmful to the news publishers themselves if Google were to leave Australia.

"And that's very valuable to the news publishers. The audience that they get from Google and Facebook is what drives their advertising revenue and which really is what keeps them commercially viable. So, without that they're very much at a loss. News publishers in Australia are reported to get upwards of fifty percent of their audience via Google and Facebook. And so that's why it's so important to them to maintain access to that audience."

Google is now reviving plans to launch its own news website in Australia, according to a local media outlet contracted to provide content for the site.

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the reported plans.

On Thursday (January 28) Australia also announced it may soon let internet users choose what data they give to Google and other Big Tech companies.