Google announced that it’s blocking Canadian news links across its platforms as the fallout from Bill C-18 continues.
The company claims the Trudeau government hasn’t given it reason to believe the regulatory process will improve, which it said sparked the move Thursday afternoon.
“As a result, we have informed the government that we have made the difficult decision that when the law takes effect 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,” Kent Walker, Google & Alphabet’s president of global affairs, said in a company blog post.
Bill C-18, the Online News Act, would require big tech platforms like Google and Meta to pay news publishers to post their links should either company profit from doing so.
But Walker says that the legislation isn’t fair since other companies post news links free of charge and that it would cause uncertainty for the companies’ products.
Walked added that C-18 “exposes us to uncapped financial liability simply for facilitating Canadians’ access to news from Canadian publishers.”
Google has been threatening for over a year to pull Canadian content from its platforms if it could not agree to more favourable terms with the federal government.
The company says it already supports Canadian journalism through programs and partnerships, and Walker’s blog post said it was prepared to do more.
Through its Google News Showcase program, the company negotiated agreements spanning 150 news media organizations across the country.
“Last year alone, we linked to Canadian news publications more than 3.6 billion times—at no charge—helping publishers make money through ads and new subscriptions,” Walker wrote.
“This referral traffic from links has been valued at $250 million CAD annually. We’re willing to do more; we just can’t do it in a way that breaks the way that the web and search engines are designed to work, and that creates untenable product and financial uncertainty.”
The government hasn’t responded to news Google is scuttling Canadian content across its platforms.
However, earlier this week, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said the government will support newsrooms if tech giants go forward with blocking Canadian news.
“We have to make sure that newsrooms are open, that (journalists) are able to do their job and (they) have the resources necessary,” Rodriguez said.
Meta has also stated that it is not in negotiations with the government and that it will also block Canadian news content from its platforms.