Google told the Canadian government it would block articles from Canada-based news outlets from appearing in search results and other products in the country after the passage of a new bill that would require Google to pay a fee to news companies.
The new bill, C-18, was passed last week. The bill would have brought in $329 million for Canadian newsrooms annually, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated, a revenue stream that now seems unlikely to materialize. It requires companies like Meta and Google to pay media outlets when they link to news in search or feeds.
The move, which will also pull Canadian media from Google’s News and Discover products, could have a big impact on publishers that rely on Google search to attract readers who support their businesses. The changes appear to have already started to impact some users.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, one of Canada’s largest news organizations, said it would “encourage Canadians to go directly to the websites they trust for their news.” Newsrooms in Canada and around the world have suffered from years of decline. From 2008 to 2018, 216 Canadian newsrooms closed their doors, according to researchers.
“Big tech would rather spend money changing their platforms to block news from Canadians instead of paying a small share of the billions they make in advertising dollars,” Pablo Rodriguez, M.P for Honoré-Mercier said on Twitter Thursday. Google reported $40.69 billion in Search revenue for the second quarter of 2023.
Google’s global affairs president Kent Walker called the framework of the new law “unworkable” in a blog post and said it would expose the company to “uncapped financial liability simply for facilitating Canadians’ access to news from Canadian publishers.”
Meta already said it would begin blocking Canadian news outlets from appearing on Facebook or Instagram after the bill’s passage. A similar law was passed in Australia and prompted the same response from Meta, attracting significant controversy. Meta later cut a deal with the country and restored access to news.
“The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians’ access to local news than pay their fair share is a real problem, and now they’re resorting to bullying tactics to try and get their way. It’s not going to work,” Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau told reporters last week.
“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,” Walker said.