Following the implementation of Canada’s new law, Bill C-18 (also known as the Online News Act), Google is joining other prominent internet giants in removing news content. The law mandates that tech companies engage in compensation negotiations with publishers for linked material. As a result, Google has announced its decision to remove links to Canadian news articles from its search, News, and Discover services within the country. Additionally, Google will cease its operation of News Showcase in Canada once C-18 becomes effective, a transition expected in six months.
Cris Turner, Google’s Vice President of Government Affairs, argues that C-18 is “legislation that cannot be effectively implemented” and deems it excessively severe. In comparison, the European Union permits the unrestricted use of links and short excerpts, while even the Czech Republic, with its stricter interpretation of EU regulations, allows the use of headlines and links. In Australia, where similar legislation mandates payment by online services for news, Google has successfully negotiated agreements that preserve its news features and avoid compliance with the law’s requirements.
Google maintains its belief in the importance of fostering a “vibrant journalism industry” and has proposed several policy measures it believes could contribute to this goal. These include seeking input from experts, investing in newsroom advancements, and supporting traditional news outlets during their transition to digital platforms. Google contends that the approach dictated by C-18 creates uncertainty in product strategy and exposes the company to unbounded financial penalties.
This decision by Google comes shortly after Meta’s announcement that it will block access to all news content on Facebook and Instagram in Canada. Meta has previously objected to similar actions taken by Australia and New Zealand, claiming that such legislation enables the government to unjustly determine who should pay and how much publishers should receive.
Similar to Meta, Google is employing the threat of removing news content as a negotiating tactic. Turner emphasizes that Google intends to “participate in the regulatory process” and urges the government to chart a “viable path forward.” The tech giant hopes for a partial change of stance from policymakers, to put it simply.
However, reaching a compromise is far from guaranteed. Bill C-18 was drafted by politicians in response to concerns over a significant decline in advertising revenue for publications over the past two decades. While Google and other companies have made investments in newsroom projects, provided free tools, and promoted news content to support publishers, lawmakers evidently remain unconvinced that these efforts suffice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about news links in Canada
What is the reason behind Google’s decision to pull news links in Canada?
Google has decided to remove news links in Canada in response to the newly enacted Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act. This law requires tech companies to negotiate compensation with publishers for linked material. Google believes this legislation is unworkable and harsh.
How will Google’s withdrawal of news links affect its services in Canada?
Google will no longer display links to Canadian news stories in its search results, News service, and Discover feature within Canada. Additionally, it will cease operating its News Showcase in the country when the law takes effect in six months.
Why does Google oppose Bill C-18?
Google’s Vice President of Government Affairs, Cris Turner, argues that the legislation is unworkable and unduly harsh. He points out that other regions, such as the European Union, allow the free use of links and short extracts, while even the Czech Republic, with stricter interpretations, permits headlines and links. Google has negotiated deals in Australia to avoid falling under similar requirements.
How does Google plan to support the journalism industry despite withdrawing news links?
Google emphasizes its belief in a vibrant journalism industry and has proposed various policy ideas. These include consulting with experts, investing in newsroom progress, and supporting traditional news outlets during their transition to digital platforms.
Is there any hope for a compromise between Google and the Canadian government?
Google plans to participate in the regulatory process and hopes for a viable path forward. The company seeks at least a partial change of heart from the government, indicating its willingness to negotiate and find common ground.
Why did Meta (Facebook) also remove access to news content in Canada?
Meta, like Google, removed access to news content in Canada due to concerns over similar legislation, Bill C-18. Meta argues that such laws allow the government to unfairly determine who should pay and how much publishers should receive.
Have efforts by Google and other companies been sufficient to support publishers?
Lawmakers drafted Bill C-18 in response to concerns about a significant drop in ad revenue for publications over the past two decades. While Google and other companies have invested in newsroom projects, provided free tools, and highlighted news content, legislators remain unconvinced that these efforts go far enough to address the issue.