The Australian prime minister said he had a “constructive” meeting on Thursday with the head of Google after the technology company threatened to remove its search engine from Australia with plans to make digital platforms pay for news.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also welcomed the support of Microsoft’s rival Microsoft, which set Australian proposed rules that would make Google and Facebook pay as a global example.
Sundar Photosi, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, have launched an online meeting with Morrison to discuss draft laws introduced in Parliament in December.
“I thought it was a constructive meeting,” Morrison said. “I think I was able to send them excellent signals that should give them great encouragement to get involved in this process.”
Google Regional Director Mel Silva told a Senate panel last month that the company could make search engines unavailable in Australia if the so-called News Media Bargaining Code forces Google and Facebook to pay for Australian news.
Google did not specify how Australians would be excluded from any services.
The Senate committee will report to government on its review of legislation amended on February 12.
Morrison said he also clarified with Fotoi that “Australia sets the rules for how these things work.”
“We’ve discussed some of the key features of the code and they’ve raised those issues, I think, with great respect,” Morrison said. “But I think we have been able to put that in a very good position in terms of being able to continue to provide services here in Australia.”
Google declined to comment on this meeting.
While Google and Facebook denounced the law as invalid, Microsoft President Brad Smith said his business would be willing to pay for news if its search engines increased the Australian market share.
The law would initially only apply to Google and Facebook, but the government could add other platforms in the future if Google leaves Australia.
Although Bing is the second most popular search engine in Australia, it has a market share of only 3.6%. Google claims to have 95%.
Smith said Microsoft would invest in Bing in Australia to improve its quality so that it would be on par with Google as it was in North America and Britain.
“This is an opportunity, whether people use Bing or not, to contribute to supporting the importance of news and publishing and fixing that … Smith told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“We applaud the government for taking this kind of action. I think it is needed, not only in Australia but also elsewhere, ”he added.
Technology has had two negative effects on the life of democracy – it spreads inaccurate information and forms an economic base for the media, he said.