Google set to remove news links in Canada over online news law | Business

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Google said Thursday it will remove links to Canadian news on its platforms across Canada after a new law that forces digital giants to compensate media outlets for content they share or otherwise repurpose comes into force.

The tech giant said it will remove Canadian news links from Google News — a personalized aggregator service available by web or app that highlights local news — and from Google Discover, a feature on mobile phones that helps people find content.

Only Canadian news will be blocked, so Canadian users will still be able to see content from outlets like Fox News or BBC, for example.

Google said it has informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government of its decision. It did not say exactly when it will begin to remove news, but it will happen before the law comes into force. The law passed last week and will come into effect by the end of the year.

Meta made a similar announcement last week, saying that it will remove news from its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram before the law comes into force. It is also ending existing deals with local publishers. Meta is already running a test to block news for up to 5% of its Canadian users. Google ran a similar test earlier this year.

Kent Walker, president of global affairs for Google and its parent company Alphabet, said he’s disappointed it has come to this but that the law is “unworkable.”

In a blog post published to Google’s website on Thursday, Walker said the bill creates a price on links, resulting in an uncapped financial liability “simply for facilitating Canadians’ access to news from Canadian publishers.”

“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 wrote.

The Online News Act requires both companies to enter into agreements with news publishers to pay them for news content that appears on their sites if it helps them generate money.

Google had been seeking assurances about how much that could cost them, and how the bargaining process will unfold. Those details are likely to become clear after the bill’s regulatory process is complete.

Legacy media and broadcasters have praised the bill, which promises to “enhance fairness” in the digital news marketplace and help bring in more money for shrinking newsrooms. Tech giants including Meta and Google have been blamed in the past for disrupting and dominating the advertising industry, eclipsing smaller, traditional players.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has said previously he is hopeful that the government will come to a positive resolution with both companies to prevent them from removing news. Rodriguez also said his government will continue to support newsrooms if Google and Meta pull news from their platforms, though he did not say exactly how that will be done.

Since 2008, nearly 500 newsrooms have closed across the country, Rodriguez said.

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