Google to block news in Canada, rejecting payments to publishers

Google announced its intention to block Canadian news content on its platform within Canada as part of its opposition to a new law that mandates payments to local news publishers.
Google South KoreaFollowing the footsteps of Facebook, Google plans to remove links to Canadian news from search results and other products in Canada once the law takes effect in approximately six months.

The enactment of Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act, prompted Meta Platforms, the owner of Facebook, to make a similar announcement last week.

Canada’s media industry has been advocating for increased regulation of internet giants to help news organizations recover from financial losses incurred as Facebook and Google dominated the online advertising market.

According to Canada’s independent budgetary watchdog, the legislation could require news businesses to receive around C$330 million ($249 million) annually through mandated agreements. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, the bill’s proponent, has clarified that the platforms are not immediately obligated to comply with the act and that the government is open to consultations regarding regulatory implementation.

Both Facebook and Google argue that the proposed measures are unsustainable for their businesses and have previously signaled their intent to limit news availability in Canada unless the act is amended. In response, Canada’s federal government has resisted calls for changes, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accusing the companies of resorting to “bullying tactics” in June.

In a statement, Rodriguez criticized the tech giants for prioritizing modifications to their platforms to block access to Canadian news rather than contributing their fair share to news organizations. Google’s President of Global Affairs, Kent Walker, expressed the company’s belief that the law is unworkable and that the regulatory process is unable to address the “structural issues” within the legislation.

Walker further stated that Google has notified the government of its decision to remove links to Canadian news from its Search, News, and Discover products when the law becomes effective. The specific news outlets affected by this action will be determined based on the government’s definition of “eligible news businesses” once the implementation rules are finalized.

Additionally, Google will terminate its News Showcase program in Canada, which involves agreements with 150 news publications across the country. Reuters, one of these publications, has a contract with Google to produce News Showcase panels, including in Canada.

The legislation mandates that online platforms engage in negotiations with news publishers and compensate them for their content. Similar legislation was passed in Australia in 2021, which initially prompted Google and Facebook to threaten limiting their services. However, both companies reached agreements with Australian media companies after the legislation was amended.

Google argues that Canada’s law is broader than those in Australia and Europe, as it assigns a value to news story links displayed in search results and applies to outlets that do not produce news. The search engine giant has proposed that payment should be based on the display of news content itself, rather than links, and that only businesses adhering to journalistic standards should be eligible for compensation.

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