Google announced on Thursday that it will remove links to Canadian news on its platforms in response to the Liberal government's new law, which requires digital giants to compensate media outlets for shared or repurposed content online.
This decision means that Canadian news links will be removed from Google News and Google Discover, and the company will also end Google News Showcase in Canada. While Canadian users will still have access to content from international sources such as Fox News or BBC, Canadian news will no longer be available.
The move is a response to Bill C-18, also known as the Online News Act, which seeks to regulate tech companies and address their dominance in the online advertising market.
The law requires Meta and Google to enter into agreements with news publishers and share revenues from news stories appearing on their platforms. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that this could result in Google and Facebook funding over 30 percent of newsroom costs annually.
However, if news is removed from their platforms, publishers will not receive additional funding and will also lose revenue from existing deals.
The Liberal government views the dominance of Meta and Google, as well as their decision to remove news, as a threat to Canadian democracy and the struggling news industry. Over the past decade, nearly 500 newsrooms have closed in Canada due to declining ad revenue.
Google's President of Global Affairs, Kent Walker, expressed disappointment in the situation, stating that the law is "unworkable" and creates an uncapped financial liability for simply facilitating Canadians' access to news.
Walker emphasized that Google already supports Canadian journalism through programs such as Google News Showcase, which has agreements with over 150 news publications in Canada. He also highlighted that Google linked to Canadian news publications over 3.6 billion times last year, helping publishers generate revenue through ads and subscriptions.
Despite Google's efforts to work with the government and propose amendments to the legislation, their suggestions were not accepted. Google stated that it will participate in the regulatory process but expressed concerns about the potential negative impact of the Online News Act on Canadians' ability to find news, journalists' reach, and web traffic to Canadian publishers.
As of now, there is no specific timeline for when Google will remove Canadian news links, but the law is expected to come into effect by the end of the year/within the next 6 months. The government is hopeful for a positive resolution and stated that it will continue to support newsrooms if Google and Meta go through with removing news from their platforms, but Google doesn't seem to happy.