Google joins Meta in blocking news in Canada rather than paying news outlets

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Google said Thursday it will block news via its Search and News tools in Canada because of the country’s legislation forcing Big Tech platforms to pay media organizations for news used on their services.

The company’s clash with Canada comes on the heels of Meta’s announcement last week that it would restrict news on Facebook and Instagram after Canada passed the Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18.

Related legislation in the U.S. is defunct, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy declared an antitrust journalism bill dead in Congress earlier this month.

Kent Walker, Google’s president of global affairs, said his company did not make the decision to squash news lightly and wanted Canadian users and publishers to know as soon as possible. 

“We have now informed the government that when the law takes effect, we unfortunately will have to remove links to Canadian news from our Search, News and Discover products in Canada, and that C-18 will also make it untenable for us to continue offering our Google News Showcase product in Canada,” Mr. Walker wrote on Google’s blog. 

Last week, Canada’s Senate passed the Online News Act and the Canadian government said its Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission would handle implementation of the law. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously sounded optimistic that Google would play ball with the government’s efforts to oversee negotiations and bargaining between media companies and Big Tech, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“I will say the conversations with Google are ongoing,” Mr. Trudeau said Wednesday. “It is important that we find a way to ensure that Canadians can continue to access content in all sorts of ways but also that we protect rigorous independent journalism that has a foundational role in our democracies.”

The Canadian government could try to resolve its dispute with the Big Tech titans like Australia did. 

Meta threatened to block news in Australia in 2021 in response to legislation directing Big Tech companies to pay but it ultimately brokered an agreement with the government and didn’t resort to a blockade of news online. 

In the U.S., antitrust journalism legislation is headed nowhere at the federal level. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act this month, but Mr. McCarthy said he would not allow it to move forward in the House. Sen. Alex Padilla, California Democrat, said he would block its passage in the Senate. 

The News Media Alliance, a coalition of publishers including The Washington Times, has lobbied in support of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. The Alliance applauded the reintroduction of the bill earlier this year and called for its passage.

The California State Assembly passed a state-specific version of the antitrust journalism legislation earlier this month after Meta similarly threatened to remove news from its platforms in that state. 

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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