‘Didn’t work in Australia, and it won’t here:’ Google blocks Canadian news

Google blocks news content for some Canadians in response to government bill.
02 March 2023
Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay

In response to the Canadian government’s online news bill, Google is preventing some Canadian users from viewing news content.

Bill C-18, the Online News Act, would require digital giants such as Google and Meta, which owns Facebook, to negotiate deals that would compensate Canadian media companies for republishing their content on their platforms.

Google spokesman Shay Purdy said in a written statement last week: “We’re briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a very small percentage of Canadian users.” 

The company has long battled Ottawa over the bill, which was introduced last Northern Hemisphere spring as a way to support a shrinking journalism industry that has seen tech titans dominate the digital advertising market.

A spokeswoman for Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Canadians will not be intimidated and called it disappointing that Google is borrowing from Meta’s playbook. Last year, that company threatened to block news off its site in response to the bill.

“This didn’t work in Australia, and it won’t work here because Canadians won’t be intimidated. At the end of the day, all we’re asking the tech giants to do is compensate journalists when they use their work,” spokeswoman Laura Scaffidi said in a statement last Wednesday.

Paul Deegan, president for News Media Canada, which represents hundreds of publications across Canada stated: “Canadians are going see this as a foreign company that is bullying Canadians, and I don't think that this is going to go over well.”

The test, which began recently, will run for approximately five weeks, a company source said. Google would not discuss the exact changes made to the search engine for Canadians captured within the test.

The bill passed the Canadian House of Commons in December and is set to be studied in the Senate in the coming months.

- CyberBeat


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