A new bill making its way to Israel’s parliament (the Knesset) would assess a tax of 7 percent on search engine ad revenues to subsidize local content publishers. The story was reported in the Financial Times. While it’s not explicit or exclusive to any individual company, the bill has been nicknamed the “Google Law.”
This parallels legislative efforts in multiple countries where Google is blamed for eroding or undermining various domestic industries, typically journalism and newspaper publishing. So far, however, Google and its rivals have managed to escape the imposition of such levies.
It’s not clear how much support the bill currently has or whether it will pass. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made statements this weekend that would seemingly indicate a lack of support for the bill. According to the FT, Netanyahu said he wanted the country “to ensure a favorable – and not hostile – business climate for these [tech and internet] companies.”
Generally speaking around the world Google is regarded by legislators as a deep pocket and potential source of revenue. It is often seen as unjustly diverting revenue from third party publishers while benefitting from their content. This is largely consistent with the perceptions driving the new Israeli legislation.