September 29, 2023

Google to remove news from search results in Canada over law on paying publishers

Google, on Thursday, announced that it will remove Canadian news content from its search, news, and discover products after the government passed a bill, which requires online platforms to pay news publishers takes effect in the country. In a statement, Google said Canada’s Bill C-18-Online News Act, which was passed last week, “remains unworkable”.

“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,” Kent Walker, President of Global Affairs, Google & Alphabet, said in a blog. He further added, “We’re disappointed it has come to this. We don’t take this decision or its impacts lightly and believe it’s important to be transparent with Canadian publishers and our users as early as possible.” The decision comes after the Canadian Government’s contentious C-18 legislation passed Parliament last week. The bill has been criticized by tech giants like Meta and Google who say it’s unfair to impose what amounts to a tax on links.

Google also stated that they support Canadian journalism. Pointing out its work in Canadian news service, Google said that last year, the company linked to Canadian news publications more than 3.6 billion times — at no charge — helping publishers make money through ads and new subscriptions. This referral traffic from links has been valued at USD 250 million CAD annually. Kent Walker also stated that ever since the Government introduced C-18 last year, Google has shared its experiences in other countries and has been clear that unworkable legislation could lead to changes that affect the availability of news on Google’s products in Canada. “Last week, just as the Bill was approaching final passage and Royal Assent, the Government agreed to discuss the possibility of addressing some of the most critical issues, which we welcomed. In that discussion, we asked for clarity on financial expectations platforms face for simply linking to news, as well as a specific, viable path towards exemption based on our programs to support news and our commercial agreements with publishers,” he said.

“While we appreciate the Government’s acknowledgement that our concerns were reasonable and confirmation that the law will not apply until they adopt implementing regulations, they have not provided us with sufficient certainty that the regulatory process will be able to resolve structural issues with the legislation (such as forced payment for links and uncapped financial liability),” he added in his blog. Earlier, Meta Platforms announced that it will end access to news on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada after the country’s Parliament approved legislation designed to compel internet giants to pay publishers, Al Jazeera reported. “Today, we are confirming that news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada prior to the Online News Act taking effect,” Meta said in a statement afterward. (ANI)