Google on Thursday became the latest Silicon Valley giant to block Canadian users from seeing local news on its platform after Ottawa passed a bill requiring tech companies to pay for such content.
The Online News Act became law last week, aiming to support a struggling Canadian news sector that has seen hundreds of publications close in the last decade.
It requires digital giants to make fair commercial deals with Canadian outlets for the news and information that is shared on their platforms, or face binding arbitration.
In a statement, Google said the new law is “unworkable” and that the government has not given it reason to believe “structural issues with the legislation” would be resolved during its implementation.
In a blog post, Google added that it will be “harder for Canadians to find news online” and “for journalists to reach their audiences.”
People in the country will, however, still be able to access news from Canadian sites by typing their respective web address directly into a browser or through apps.
Google’s announcement comes after the failure of last-ditch talks with the government aimed at bringing the company onboard.
Tech giant Meta announced last Thursday that it too would block Canadian news on Facebook and Instagram.
The two companies, who dominate online advertising, have been accused of draining cash away from traditional news organizations while using their content for free.
“We have informed the government that we have made the difficult decision that… we will be removing links to Canadian news from our Search, News, and Discover products and will no longer be able to operate Google News Showcase in Canada,” Google said.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist, said “the loss of revenues flowing out of newsrooms in Canada is not just a problem for the journalists who are affected, it’s a problem for the whole country.”
“To have a strong culture, to have a healthy society, to have healthy politics, we need great, well-paid journalists,” she said.
An October 2022 report by Canada’s parliamentary budget watchdog estimated the Online News Act would see Canadian newspapers receive about Can$330 million per year from digital platforms.
Canada’s measure builds on Australia’s New Media Bargaining Code, a world first, that made Google and Meta pay for news content on their platforms.
AFP signed a five-year agreement on neighboring rights with Google at the end of 2021 for the internet giant to pay for content from the news agency.
It also signed two commercial deals with the platform.
© Agence France-Presse