The company joins Facebook parent company Meta in saying it will stop offering links to Canadian news outlets when the law takes effect in about six months.
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Google has pledged to remove all links to Canadian media from its search engine in the wake of Canada’s recently passed media law.
The drastic action is in response to the Online News Act (Bill C-18), which will require Google and Meta to compensate Canadian news sites for content that appears on their platforms.
Google now joins Meta in saying it won’t play ball. “We have now informed the government that when the law goes into effect, we will unfortunately have to remove links to Canadian news from our search, news and discovery products in Canada,” the company said in a blog post (Opens in a new window). ) Thursday.
Additionally, the tech giant is halting its Google News Showcase platform in Canada, which pays “participating publishers to curate quality journalism.” The company’s decision threatens to deprive Canadian users of important news, given Google’s popularity on desktop computers and smartphones. But the tech giant says it has no choice because the Online News Act is inherently unfair to the company.
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“Last year alone, Google linked to Canadian news publishers more than 3.6 billion times, helping them earn money from ads and new subscriptions. This free traffic generated an estimated C$250 million worth to Canadian publishers,” Google says in a FAQ (opens new window).
“However, Bill C-18 changes this. It puts a price on links (a ‘link tax’), and when you put a price on links to information, you no longer have a free and open web,” the company says.
If Google follows through on the threat, Canadian users can expect a very different news experience. The company’s FAQ further adds: “Canadians will continue to be able to access all news sites by typing the media’s web address directly into their browser or through apps, newsletters, aggregators and other channels.”
Google goes on to argue that it tried to find a better solution by working with Canadian regulators. But the company claims that “none of our suggestions were accepted.” However, the tech giant is indicating that it is ready to start talks with the Canadian government on future amendments to C-18, which are expected to take effect within six months.
“We plan to participate in the regulatory process and will continue to be transparent with Canadians and publishers as we move forward. We hope that the Government will be able to chart a viable path forward”, adds the company. “Otherwise, we remain concerned that Bill C-18 will make it harder for Canadians to find news online.”
However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far shown no indication that he is willing to compromise. “The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians’ access to local news rather than pay their fair share is a real problem, and now they are resorting to scare tactics to try to get their way,” he said. (opens in a new window) at a press conference earlier this month.