18 April 2019
Google's Spanish search service is unaffected by its decision to shut down its news website. Photo: Internet
Google's Spanish search service is unaffected by its decision to shut down its news website. Photo: Internet

Google shuts Spain news service in rebuke to regulators

Google is closing its news service in Spain, hitting back at increasingly hostile European regulators.

The company said Google News is being shut down in response to a Spanish law due to take effect in January that forces internet news aggregators to pay domestic publishers a fee for content, the Financial Times reported Friday.

European publishing groups accused Google of trying to whip up “public outcry” against the measure.

The move is a sign Google is taking a tougher line to the avalanche of legal challenges it has faced in Europe, indicating it may withdraw services from the region if the regulatory climate becomes too inhospitable.

In November, the European parliament voted for a motion calling on regulators to consider the break-up of the company.

Although the move was symbolic, it was seen as an attempt to apply political pressure on the European Commission which is considering a highly charged antitrust investigation into Google.

On Wednesday night, Google said its Spanish news website will cease to exist on Dec. 16. The rest of its operations in the country is unaffected.

“We’re incredibly sad to announce that, due to recent changes in Spanish law, we will be removing Spanish publishers from Google News and closing Google News in Spain,” said Richard Gingras, head of Google News.

Google News is distinct from the company’s search engine. It uses an algorithm to filter and present news tailored in both language and content to the location of the user.

As such, it primarily links to stories from publishers in the country in which the reader is based.

Worldwide, Google sends around 10 billion clicks each month to news publishers, with  one billion coming from Google News, according to the company.

The Spanish law does not target search engines or social media websites, which also direct large volumes of traffic to news websites. But it stands to affect comparable news filtering services provided by other online companies, including Yahoo News.

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