Similar proposals have been suggested - and even executed - in the past. Spain, France and Germany have all demanded money from Google to local news sites, but in those cases, the demands have been focused on Google News, Google's own news aggregator. In Spain, government enforced such law in a way that all news headlines shown in local Google News were eligible for payments from Google.
Google simply shut down Spanish version of Google News. And Spanish news sites lost huge chunk of their traffic immediately.
In Australia, the law would be even tougher - all news headlines shown in traditional Google search results would be eligible for payments, too. The proposed legislation doesn't put any weight on the fact that both Google and Facebook actually direct readers to such news sites. According to Google, they send "billions of clicks" each year to Australian news sites.
Furthermore, all websites can block themselves from being shown in search engines by simply blocking the search engine indexing process. This is typically done by adding a robots.txt file to the website root, rendering the website invisible to search engine crawlers that index the web. But publishers obviously don't want that - they rely on traffic provided by Google and others, but they still want those entities feeding them traffic to pay.
Now, Google has responded to Australian government about the issue and has declared that if they're being forced to pay for news, they'd simply shut down Australian version of Google search and possibly block Australian users from accessing other Google search editions, too, if the legislation would include those, too.
Written by: Petteri Pyyny @ 22 Jan 2021 4:38