Google said Thursday it will remove Canadian news content from its search, news and discover products after a new law meant to compensate media outlets comes into force. CBC.ca reports: “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,” said Kent Walker, the president of global affairs at Google and Alphabet. “The unprecedented decision to put a price on links (a so-called ‘link tax’) creates uncertainty for our products and exposes us to uncapped financial liability simply for facilitating Canadians’ access to news from Canadian publishers.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government was confident Google would come around on the legislation. “I will say the conversations with Google are ongoing. 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,” he said. “We know that democracies only work with a strong independent diverse media and we will continue to work for that.”
The bill has been pitched as a way to keep news outlets solvent after advertising moved en masse to digital platforms, virtually wiping out a major revenue stream for journalism. […] In an attempt to reverse the revenue decline, the government’s new regulatory regime will require companies like Google and the Meta-owned Facebook — and other major online platforms that reproduce or facilitate access to news content — to either pay to post content or go through a binding arbitration process led by an arms-length regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). An outlet will be considered an eligible news business if it regularly employs two or more journalists in Canada, operates largely within Canada and produces content that is edited and designed in this country. Google and Meta have signaled they’d rather get out of the news-posting business altogether rather than deal with this process. Meta also announced last week that would be removing all news content from Facebook and Instagram for users in Canada. You can read more about the Online News Act here.