Google and Meta Platforms Inc, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, have announced their decision to remove Canadian news links from their platforms. This move comes in response to the passing of Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act, in Canada. The new law requires major online platforms to negotiate deals and pay news publishers for their content.
The legislation was introduced after complaints from Canada’s media industry, which expressed concerns about tech companies dominating the online advertising market and pushing news businesses out. Google argued that the “link tax” imposed by the law would disrupt the web by putting a price on links. They conducted tests earlier this year by limiting news content for a small percentage of Canadian users.
Both Google and Meta have expressed their disappointment with the new law and the impact it will have on Canadian publishers. They believe it is important to be transparent with publishers and users about their decision. Similar to the situation in Australia, where a similar law was passed in 2021, Google and Meta initially threatened to pull out but eventually reached agreements with publishers after the bill was amended.
The Online News Act in Canada is part of a broader global debate on how tech platforms should share advertising revenue generated from news content. Efforts are also underway in California to impose a “journalism usage fee” on platforms like Meta and Google. If the bill passes, Meta has threatened to block news links on Facebook and Instagram in California as well.
The Canadian government has defended the legislation, stating that it aims to ensure fair revenue sharing between digital platforms and news outlets. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the tech giants for using strong-arm tactics to avoid paying for news and emphasized the importance of protecting independent journalism.
However, Google and Meta argue that the Canadian law is broader and puts a price on news story links displayed in search results. They propose revisions to focus on the display of news content rather than links and ensure eligibility only for businesses that produce news and adhere to journalistic standards.
Critics of the law, including advocacy groups and opposition parties, accuse Google and Meta of dictating what information Canadians can access and view it as a violation of the open internet. They argue that the bill’s failures make it more difficult for Canadians to access reliable news on the platforms they use.
As the discussions between the Canadian government and tech companies continue, the future of news access and revenue sharing remains uncertain. The media industry, already facing financial challenges, awaits the outcome of these negotiations to determine the viability of their operations.