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Greens call for Government to investigate establishing publicly owned search engine

Following threats from Google to withdraw services from Australia, the Greens have called on the Morrison Government to investigate the establishment of a publicly owned search engine.

“Google’s threat to shut down their search services if they don’t get the laws they want shows that the corporate giant has far too much power – not just over the market but across the community,” Greens spokesperson for Media and Communications Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The government needs a plan for how Australians will continue to be able to access essential information online if Google Search were to be taken offline. We need an independent search engine that is run in the public interest not for the profit of a corporate giant.

“Google’s threat to leave Australia shows we cannot be reliant on corporations to provide essential services such as access to information online. This is an opportunity for the government to investigate setting up a publicly owned search engine that could be the gateway to the internet for Australians. It would mean Australians can search the internet with the peace of mind that their data is not being sold off to advertisers and corporations.

“The internet is an essential service for most Australians. Currently, access to the internet is controlled by a small number of very powerful corporations. We should not seek out another foreign giant to fill the gap of Google, whether it’s Microsoft or anyone else, as they will still profit off the data of Australians and be beholden to shareholder interests. A publicly owned and independent search engine would be an important step forward in restoring a free and open internet.

“A publicly owned search engine that is accountable to the public and not shareholders would be able to be set up with global best practice data privacy standards to ensure users own their own data and have control over what data is collected on them and how it is used.

“Like the ABC, a public search engine should be independent of the government of the day and be there to provide access to information for all Australians.”

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