Google will remove Canadian local news links due to the “Online News Act”

Google has announced that it will block Canadian news within the country in response to a newly passed law that aims to require tech giants to pay Canadian media for news content. The Online News Act, recently approved by Canada’s parliament, mandates platforms such as Google and Meta’s Facebook to engage in negotiations with news providers. This move by Google follows Meta’s decision to restrict news content for Canadian users.

The bill is scheduled to become effective in six months. This legislation bears similarities to a law enacted in Australia two years ago. However, Australian lawmakers made modifications to the law after Meta briefly blocked users from sharing or viewing news on its platforms in the country. The blackout was lifted once the amendments were made, and both Google and Meta subsequently entered into over 30 agreements with Australian media companies.

Google had previously criticised the Canadian law as “unworkable” in its current form and proposed amendments. Discussions between Google, Meta, and the Canadian government regarding the legislation have taken place.

Despite Google’s objections, the Canadian government argues that the law will ensure fair compensation for struggling news outlets and enhance fairness in the digital news market.

The move by Google has raised concerns for media associations and outlets that initially supported the bill, as a significant portion of web traffic to Canadian news sources is generated by Google.

For example, at the Globe and Mail, Google accounts for 30% of the traffic, while Le Devoir, a prominent French-language publication, relies on Google for 40% of its traffic and 30% from social media.

Google has not specified the duration of the ban on local news links or whether Canadian users will be shown links to stories about Canada from publishers outside the country. Google Canada’s policy team expressed their scepticism that the regulatory process will effectively address the structural issues with the legislation.

However, the company intends to participate in the regulatory process and promises transparency with Canadians and publishers as they move forward.