Google has threatened to remove its search function from Australia and Facebook has threatened to disable news from its feed for Australian users if the parliament there passes Prime Minister Scott Morrison's proposed legislation to force the companies to pay news organizations for links to their websites and stories.
During a Senate economics panel deliberation, Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Mel Silva said the legislation - which would require Google to pay publishers - would leave the search company with "no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia," news reports said Friday.
More than 19 million Australians who use Google every month would be unable to search and 17 million who use Facebook every month would no longer be able to post or see content.
Google and Facebook oppose the code - claiming it is "unworkable," poses a threat to their business models and that the two companies were prepared to exit the Australian market.
It is the first time Google has threatened to remove its main search engine.
"Let me be clear, Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. And that is done in our parliament. But we don't respond to threats," Morrison said.
Silva described the prime minister's ultimatum as a "worst case scenario," saying "it is not a threat. It's a reality."
Simon Milner, Facebook's vice president for public policy in Asia and the Pacific, said the move would be "a potential worse case consequence." He told the Senate that news content provided "almost no commercial value to Facebook."
Silva said Google was willing to make an arrangement with news companies to direct users to their sites and had made similar agreements around the world.
Australia's dispute with "Big Tech" is being monitored by world governments where doubts have been raised about the "ad duopoly" of Google and Facebook.