Google planned to block Aussies from using service: bombshell email

  • Google proposed shut down in December, 2020 
  • Was in response to News Media Bargaining Code 

Google planned to block Australians from using its search services three years ago after the introduction of a law that would force the company to pay media publications for news content.

The proposed shutdown was discussed in bombshell emails that have surfaced as part of a US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust court case against Google.

The DOJ in January launched a civil antitrust suit against the tech giant, alleging Google had been ‘monopolising multiple digital advertising technology products’.

Emails from Google’s product manager Bryan Mao have revealed the company’s plan to shut down in Australia in December 2020, following a deal with Samsung.

Emails from Google's product manager Bryan Mao have revealed the company's plan to shut down in Australia in December, 2020, following a recent deal with Samsung

‘Don’t discuss [redacted] explicitly with Samsung prior to the AU shut down,’ Mr Mao wrote, as seen in documents filed in the antitrust case.

‘There’s a confidential, Need to Know project called [redacted] that may affect Samsung.

‘In short, due to a new law in Australia, Search features may be disabled starting Dec 3 across Australia.

‘This includes Discover and most/all Search and Assistant functionality. If this goes through, it would obviously have a major impact across Samsung devices in AU.

‘The shut down isn’t definitely going to happen, but we are planning for it all the same. This obviously isn’t our ideal way to start out the new relationship with Samsung.’

Samsung would be ‘immediately’ informed of the shutdown once it happened but not before, the documents said.

The Department of Justice in January launched a civil antitrust suit against Google, alleging the tech giant had been 'monopolising multiple digital advertising technology products'

Google had also mocked up a ‘404 page not found’ in the event of the shut down, with a message reading: ‘Search isn’t available in Australia right now. Due to a new law, Google Search isn’t available, but we hope to be back soon’, Mumbrella reported.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Google for comment. 

The proposed shutdown came in response to the News Media Bargaining Code in Australia which was drawn up to tackle the huge power of Google and Facebook by forcing them to pay media companies for news content.

The code became law in March, 2021. 

Facebook temporarily blocked all news content in February, 2021, in a move which also took down pages for charities, emergency services agencies providing Covid information, domestic violence shelters and missing persons groups. 

Facebook’s news ban sent shockwaves around the world and sparked campaigns to delete the app.

‘Delete Facebook’, ‘Boycott Zuckerberg’ and ‘Facebook We Need To Talk’ began trending on rival site Twitter.

The ban was lifted a week later after a compromise was reached between the company and the Australian government on the new code. 


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