Imagine a world without Google, the search engine so pervasive it’s the starting point for more than 5 billion queries a day. That’s the reality facing Australia, where the tech giant is threatening to unplug its homepage in a standoff with the government.

Google opposes a planned law that would force the company and Facebook Inc. to pay Australian publishers for news content. The internet juggernaut’s ultimatum to local lawmakers — change the legislation, or else — has left a digital vacuum hanging over a nation that essentially knows just one way to navigate the web. Google runs 95% of internet searches in Australia.

Potential fallout from the spat goes far beyond Australia for Alphabet Inc.-owned Google, whose dominance of global advertising has made it a target for watchdogs worldwide. If the company backs down in Australia, the pay-for-news law risks becoming a template for jurisdictions including Canada and the European Union that are following the quarrel and keen to shorten Google’s lead.