The Internet giant Alphabet is threatening Australia with the shutdown of its search engine Google, should the group be obliged to pay media companies for the distribution of their content.
Alphabet was responding to plans by the Australian government for new media guidelines, according to which IT giants like Alphabet or Facebook have to pay local media companies money when they distribute their content.
The bill stipulates that the Internet giants should negotiate a usage fee with publishers and broadcasters.
If the negotiations fail, a state-appointed arbitrator should set the fees.
"Should this version of the media guidelines become law, then we will have no other realistic option, except to make the Google search function in Australia no longer accessible," said Alphabet Manager Mel Silva, responsible for Australia and New Zealand, in a hearing of Senate Committee.
Google mother gives up balloon project for Internet supply
Alphabet is also ending its attempt to provide high-speed internet to remote areas using balloons.
The subsidiary Loon founded for this purpose is closed.
“We haven't found a way to reduce costs to the point that long-term sustainable business is possible,” Loon boss Alastair Westgarth wrote in a blog post on Friday.
Google had already introduced the big balloons that can stay in the air for months in 2013.
The idea was that remote and sparsely populated areas could be supplied with Internet in this way more cheaply than with conventional telecommunications infrastructure.
In the meantime, Google and Facebook also tried drones for this purpose, but gave up these plans relatively quickly.
In contrast, Google definitely saw business potential in the balloons.
The project was brought to the independent company Loon in 2018 under the umbrella of the parent company Alphabet, which was created later.
Only last year Loon started supplying a region in Kenya in cooperation with a local network operator.
Alphabet's future bets like Loon cost billions every year, while Google's core business of online advertising still provides the money for it.
The group's best-known innovation project to date is the robot car company Waymo, which is considered a leading player in autonomous driving.