December 16, 2014 Last Updated 11:11 am

Google follows through on threat to shutter News service in Spain

Morning Brief (World Going to Hell in a Handbasket edition: Massacre of children at Pakistani school; Russian ruble continues fall as government raises interest rates to 17%

The Google News service has been shuttered in Spain today. Google had announced last week that in reaction to a new law requiring search engines to pay a tax to media companies to display content snippets inside search results they would shut down the service on the 16th. The new law requiring the payments goes into effect January 1.

GoogeNews-Spain-12-16“We’re incredibly sad to announce that, due to recent changes in Spanish law, we have removed Spanish publishers from Google News and closed Google News in Spain. We understand that readers like you may be disappointed, too, and we want to share the reasons behind this decision,” said on the Google News page for Spain.

AEDE, the association that represents Spanish newspapers, had tried to get the Spanish government to intervene in the matter, but revising or dumping the new law would have taken too long to enact to have any impact on today’s shutdown.

“This legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not,” Google said. “As Google News itself makes no money (we do not show any advertising on the site) this new approach was not sustainable.”

According to El País, the Google News site in Spain only generated 385,000 unique visitors a month, though this does not count mobile web users.

Google strategically picked the 16th in order to demonstrate what the shutdown will mean for publishers before the law goes into effect – a tactic that worked to reverse a similar policy in Germany. The difference here is that the Spanish law was crafted in such a way as to force publishers to act as one and demand Google and other search engines pay the tax. In the end, it only led to this result, one publishers may soon regret.

Nonetheless, the Spanish culture minister José Ignacio Wert said that he felt Google “jumped the gun” on the move but admitted that it “was publishers themselves who suggested a tax on links that go directly to their site. Now it will be the industry that will have to see the impact in real terms of not having this tool.”

The Taliban this morning targeted an army run public school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing as many as 130. Most were children.

“At least 130 martyred in Peshawar school attack” Khyber Pakthunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak told Pakistani media.

Six suicide bombers were involved in the attack which the Taliban launched in revenge for a recent campaign against the group.

Ruble-chartThe Russian ruble fell in value again today, continuing a slide that most observers tie to the falling price of oil and sanctions against Russia imposed since the country began interfering in Ukraine. The ruble has fallen over 50 percent in value this year.

The falling price of oil has driven Russia into recession, or soon will, and has begun to deplete the country’s reserves. Its pile of cash has decreased to $416 billion, a five year low.

To prevent the ruble from falling even further, the central back dramatically raised interest rates 6.5 points yesterday in a move that many see as near panic.

“If such a rate hike, such a shot of medicine doesn’t help the ruble, then interventions won’t help either,” Artem Roschin, a foreign-exchange dealer in Moscow, told Bloomberg.

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