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Google threat to block news sites

Newspaper websites will be blocked if MPs vote for new tax on search engine

GOOGLE has threatened to block French media websites from its search engine if MPs pass a new tax.

Newspaper groups have been searching for ways to draw money from Google, which they say profits by including their content among its searches.

Google says the newspapers are ignoring the benefits they receive from this arrangement - as it directs four billion clicks every month towards online French media.

The Association de la Presse d'Information Politique et Générale (IPG) and the Syndicat de la Presse Quotidienne Nationale have proposed that search engines may index their content without hindrance, as long as they pay “a fair remuneration” for doing so.

Bosses of any search engine found indexing news without payment could be fined up to €300,000 and face three years in prison.

A draft proposal has been sent to the minister for culture and communication, minister for digital technology and the prime minister.

Digital Technology Minister Fleur Pellerin said France and Germany could work together on the issue as a similar project was being considered there. The subject is likely to be raised today when she meets Google representatives to discuss privacy issues.

Google has said that the law threatens to limit access to information and put its very existence in jeopardy. It said making it pay for directing people to news websites was like "asking a taxi-driver to pay for taking a customer to a restaurant".

It published the contents of the email on its European news blog.

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