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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Google blocks Canadian local news, world news over media law


Canadian media outlets are bracing for a major setback, with Google announcing Thursday that it would remove news generated in the country from its Search and News and other platforms following controversial legislation in Ottawa.


The Online News Act became law last week, and on Thursday Google and Alphabet President of Global Affairs Kent Walker said the bill “doesn’t work” and that the tech giant has notified the Canadian government that once it comes into effect, “Unfortunately, we must remove the link to Canadian News from our Canadian Search, News and Discovery products.”

It will also revisit Google News Showcase, under which it has signed deals with nearly 150 Canadian publications.

“We’re disappointed that things have come to this. We don’t take this decision or its implications lightly, and believe it’s important to be transparent with Canadian publishers and our users early on,” Walker said in a statement released by Google. .

Google’s action follows Meta’s similar announcement last week, also involving the removal of Canadian news content from its platforms Facebook and Instagram. Meta has begun canceling deals with Canadian news outlets.

The main issue that has irritated the tech giants is that the law requires payment for links to news content displayed on their platforms. The Google statement added: “The unprecedented decision to price links (the so-called ‘link tax’) creates uncertainty for our product and exposes us to unlimited liability for the sole purpose of facilitating Canadians’ access to news from Canadian publishers. financial responsibility.”

Ottawa appears unwilling to compromise. After Google’s announcement, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez tweeted: “Big Tech would rather spend money changing their platforms to block news from Canadians than Pay a fraction of their billions in ad revenue. Canadians don’t get bullied. Big Tech isn’t bigger than Canada.”

Critics of the legislation had warned of such an outcome. University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, one of them, tweeted Thursday that the blame rests “entirely” with Rodriguez for not taking “flawed” legislation “seriously” risks of”.

There may still be a window of understanding, however, as Google will continue to be involved in discussions as the government finalizes the regulatory structure to implement the terms of the bill. “We hope the government can chart a viable path forward,” Google said.


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