Google VP of news Richard Gingras has refused to rule out Google shutting down Google News in the EU in response to plans to charge a "link tax" for using news stories, according to The Guardian.
Brussels has been attempting to pass a new tax on links in order to compensate publishers when their work appears on third-party platforms and, as a service which brings together news stories from sources all over the internet, the tax would hit the Google News service particularly hard.
The tech giant has been preparing to call the EU's bluff by suggesting it will simply withdraw the service if the bill passes. Judging by past actions this is not an empty threat as Google shut down its Spanish services in 2014 after the Spanish government attempted to impose a similar link charge.
Visit Innovation Enterprise's Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in San Francisco on December 5–6, 2018
"It's not desirable to shut down services," explained Gingras in an interview with The Guardian, but he added that the search engine giant was very concerned about the proposals.
The future of Google News in the EU could be likely to depend on whether the EU is willing to change the phrasing of the legislation to accommodate.
"We can't make a decision until we see the final language," Gingras told the UK newspaper.
Google now faces a battle with Brussels to lobby against the proposed changes, arguing that it is not a for-profit site.
Gingras concluded: "There's no advertising in Google News. It is not a revenue-generating product to Google. We think it's valuable as a service to society. We are proud to have it as part of the stable of properties that people have."