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Internet search giant Google has threatened to cease operating in Australia if a new law proposed by the Australian government comes to fruition. The law is designed to force tech giants such as Google and Facebook to pay royalties to media companies whose news they show or link to on their platforms. Currently, Google and Facebook show and link to news from other organisations on their platforms and users have the ability to view the news on the websites without going to the news organisation’s website itself. Users are able to read full stories while staying within Google or Facebook’s websites. This means that news organisations cannot profit from the ad revenue that is generated from users visiting their websites.

The new law proposed by the Australian government would require Google to enter into agreements with news organisations whose news stories it uses or links to. They would be forced to come to an arrangement over what to pay the news organisations for access to the content. If they were unable to come to an agreement, a court would be able to decide what it thinks is a fair amount. Google has said the current proposal is unworkable for them and that they would be forced to leave Australia.

Google is claiming that by linking to news organisations, they drive a significant amount of traffic to them. The company, therefore, claims that news organisations already benefit greatly from their service, including generating more revenue than they would otherwise receive. Analysts believe that the strong response from Google is out of fear that other countries may begin to implement the same types of measures against tech companies. Although news services are only a small percentage of business for companies like Facebook and Google, they are fighting hard against all types of regulation. 

The Australian government has said they will not be intimidated by Google’s threats. Although Google has over 90% of the search engine market in Australia, this has not cowed the government. It is unclear what the full ramifications of Google’s threat would entail. The company said they would cease operating their search engine in the country but it is unknown whether this would affect their other services such as Gmail, Youtube, Android phones and more. Regardless, the Australian government seems optimistic about the emptiness of Google’s threat. Australian Senator Rex Patrick said to Google regarding the law “It’s going to go worldwide. Are you going to pull out of every market, are you?”. The Australian Prime Minister also rejected the threats, saying that Australia will not be blackmailed and that Australia will make its own laws regardless of what outside companies say. If Australia does pass the law, other countries will be watching closely to see how they can implement similar laws themselves.

Difficult words

Cease (v): To stop an action.

Fruition (n): The realisation or accomplishment of a plan.

Tech giant (n): A leading technology company.

Royalties (n): Payment to use a work of writing, art, film or music.

Intimidate (v): Try to frighten someone to make them do what you want.

Cow (v): To submit to someone’s wishes.

Ramification (n): A negative consequence to another action.

Entail (v): To involve or what is necessary.

Blackmail (v): To threaten a negative action if you don’t get what you want.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

American English Audio:

Match the Synonym!

1. CeaseA. Submit
2. FruitionB. Payment
3. Tech GiantC. Involve
4. RoyaltiesD. Stop
5. IntimidateE. Consequence
6. CowF. Threaten
7. RamificationG. Realisation
8. EntailH. Frighten
9. BlackmailI. Technology company.

True or False?

1. Google has threatened to withdraw its services from Australia. T / F

2. Currently, Facebook and Google do not pay royalties to display news articles on their websites. T / F

3. Australia created its new law against tech companies in January 2021. T / F

4. News organisations do not receive any ad revenue from their news stories on Google. T / F

5.  The proposed law would require news agencies to pay Google. T / F

6. If tech companies and news agencies can’t agree on a royalties amount, a court will decide. T / F

7.  Google said that the current law proposal is workable. T / F

8. Google claims they drive a high amount of traffic to the news organisations. T / F

9. Analysts believe that Google does not fear other countries will create a similar law. T / F

10. News services are a huge percentage of business for Google. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. news / Facebook / to / and / Currently, / link / and / show / Google

2. cannot / organisations / that / profit / This / means / news

3. arrangement / would / They / an / come / forced / to / to / be

4. proposal / is / current / the / has / Google / unworkable / said

5. said / their / they / search / The / cease / engine / operating / would / company

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English Audio:

LinkingGiantRegardless
ThreatsAccessPercentage
ProposedEmptinessItself

Internet search (1)_________ Google has threatened to cease operating in Australia if a new law proposed by the Australian government comes to fruition. The law is designed to force tech giants such as Google and Facebook to pay royalties to media companies whose news they show or link to on their platforms. Currently, Google and Facebook show and link to news from other organisations on their platforms and users have the ability to view the news on the websites without going to the news organisation’s website (2)__________. Users are able to read full stories while staying within Google or Facebook’s websites. This means that news organisations cannot profit from the ad revenue that is generated from users visiting their websites.

The new law (3)_____________ by the Australian government would require Google to enter into agreements with news organisations whose news stories it uses or links to. They would be forced to come to an arrangement over what to pay the news organisations for (4)__________ to the content. If they were unable to come to an agreement, a court would be able to decide what it thinks is a fair amount. Google has said the current proposal is unworkable for them and that they would be forced to leave Australia.

Google is claiming that by (5)____________ to news organisations, they drive a significant amount of traffic to them. The company, therefore, claims that news organisations already benefit greatly from their service, including generating more revenue than they would otherwise receive. Analysts believe that the strong response from Google is out of fear that other countries may begin to implement the same types of measures against tech companies. Although news services are only a small (6)______________ of business for companies like Facebook and Google, they are fighting hard against all types of regulation. 

The Australian government has said they will not be intimidated by Google’s (7)____________. Although Google has over 90% of the search engine market in Australia, this has not cowed the government. It is unclear what the full ramifications of Google’s threat would entail. The company said they would cease operating their search engine in the country but it is unknown whether this would affect their other services such as Gmail, Youtube, Android phones and more. Regardless, the Australian government seems optimistic about the (8)______________ of Google’s threat. Australian Senator Rex Patrick said to Google regarding the law “It’s going to go worldwide. Are you going to pull out of every market, are you?”. The Australian Prime Minister also rejected the threats, saying that Australia will not be blackmailed and that Australia will make its own laws (9)______________ of what outside companies say. If Australia does pass the law, other countries will be watching closely to see how they can implement similar laws themselves.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Is Google the most popular search engine in your country?
5. Should governments be creating rules like this?
6. How popular are other Google services in your country?
7. Is Facebook popular in your country?
8. Where do you find your news?
9. Do Google and Facebook help news organisations by sending people to them?
10. Do you think Google will actually leave Australia?
11. Does it matter if Google leaves Australia?
12. Could you live without using any of Google’s services?
13. Does your government try to limit tech companies like Google?
14. How can governments make big tech companies pay more in taxes?
15. Are there any other tech companies that you think should be limited in some way?
16. Do you think tech companies should be paying any other types of organisations for their content?
17. Do you think your country would create a law like this?
18. Do you agree that most countries will create the same law someday?
19. What do you think Google should do?
20. What do you think would happen if Google left your country?