In response to Canada’s controversial Online News Act, Google and Meta (formerly Facebook) are pushing back against the new bill that would require technology companies to pay publishers for content. Google has announced that it will remove links to Canadian news from its search results and other platforms. Meta has also stated that it will end news availability for Canadian users on Facebook and Instagram.
Both companies had discussions with the Canadian government regarding the legislation, but deemed the bill “unworkable,” according to Google. The bill is expected to come into effect in six months, mandating internet giants to negotiate deals and pay for content from local news organizations.
According to Google’s president of global affairs, Kent Walker, in a blog post, they have expressed their concerns about the approach taken to support journalism in Canada for more than a year. Walker referred to the proposed “link tax” as creating uncertainty for their products and exposing them to potential financial liability.
He stated that Google is worried about being held responsible for facilitating Canadians’ access to news from Canadian publishers, which could result in significant changes to their products.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, the bill’s author, stated that the government will not yield to the pressure and intends to proceed with the legislation. He criticized Google and Meta, referring to their actions as “bullying” tactics and accusing them of being disconnected from reality.
Rodriguez argued that instead of paying a fair share of their advertising revenue, big tech companies prefer to invest resources in altering their platforms to block news from Canadians. He emphasized that Canadians will not be intimidated by these tactics.
A similar situation unfolded in Australia in 2021 when a comparable law was enacted. Google and Facebook initially threatened to limit their services in response. However, after amendments were made to the legislation, both companies eventually reached agreements with Australian media organizations.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence that Google and Meta would eventually comply with the Canadian legislation. However, Google countered by arguing that the scope of the law is extensive and could apply to outlets that don’t produce news content.
Google contended that payment should be based on displaying news content rather than just providing links. Additionally, it suggested that only businesses adhering to journalistic standards should be eligible for compensation.
The purpose of the bill is to promote fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace and contribute to its long-term viability. It is a response to the media industry’s call for stricter regulation of the two internet giants, which currently dominate 80% of Canada’s online advertising revenue.
According to data from the Canadian government, Google and Facebook generate $9.7 billion annually in ad revenue. Under the new legislation, Canadian news organizations could potentially receive around $249 million per year through negotiated agreements. However, if Google and Meta block their content, it could have devastating consequences for these businesses.