Canada’s Online News Act targets Facebook and Google

Canada's Online News Act targets Facebook and Google

The Canadian parliament has passed a law that would require technology companies to pay domestic news outlets to link to their articles, prompting the owner of Facebook and Instagram to say it wants news from both platforms in the country. Will pull the article.

The law, passed on Thursday, is the latest salvo by governments around the world to force big companies like Google and Facebook to pay for news shared on their platforms – a campaign that the companies have fought back at virtually every turn. opposed.

With some caveats, the new Canadian law will force search engines and social media companies to engage in a process of bargaining – and binding arbitration if necessary – to license news content for their use.

The law, the Online News Act, was modeled after a similar law passed in Australia two years earlier. It was designed to “enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market and contribute to its stability”. official summary, It was not clear as of Friday morning when the law would take effect.

Supporters of the law see it as a victory for the news media as it battles declining advertising revenues that Silicon Valley companies attribute to cornering the market for online advertising.

“A strong, free and independent press is fundamental to our democracy,” said Pablo Rodriguez, minister of Canadian Heritage in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government. wrote on Twitter late Thursday night, “The Online News Act will help ensure that tech giants make fair and equitable deals with news organizations.”

Tech companies feel differently.

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, had first warned Lawmakers that if the law is passed it will stop making news available on both platforms for Canadian users. The company said it now plans to do the same.

“We have repeatedly shared that to comply with Bill C-18 passed in Parliament today, content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada.” Meta said in a statement,

It added that the changes affecting news content will not impact other products and services that are used for fact-checking, social connection and business development.

In a separate statement, a Google spokeswoman criticized Legislation as “unviable” and said the company had proposed “thoughtful and practical solutions” to rectify this.

Google Canadian MPs told Debate over the legislation in May raised unrealistic expectations of “unlimited subsidies for the Canadian media” among politicians and news publishers. Among other changes, Google suggested requiring tech firms to pay for “displayed” news content, not links to it.

“So far, none of our concerns have been resolved,” Google spokeswoman Jen Crider said in a statement Thursday. She did not say what the company plans to do about the legislation and declined to comment further on the record.

Similar battles have been played out in other countries for years.

In the European Union, countries are trying to enforce a copyright directive that was adopted in 2019 to force Google, Facebook and other platforms to compensate news organizations for their content.

In Australia, parliament passed a law in 2021 that obliges Google and Facebook to pay for news content that appears on their platforms. At the time, Google appeared to effectively surrender by announcing a three-year global agreement with News Corp to pay for the publisher’s news content. Facebook took the opposite step, saying it would immediately ban people and publishers from sharing or viewing news links in Australia.

And in the United States, the Justice Department and a group of eight states sued Google in January, accusing the company of illegally abusing its monopoly on the technology that powers online advertising. The lawsuit was the department’s first antitrust lawsuit against a tech giant under President Biden.

California is also threatening to apply legal pressure on tech companies. This month, the state legislature voted to introduce a bill to the state senate that would Tax Tech Companies to Distribute News Articles, meta Said in response that it would be “forced” to remove news from Facebook and Instagram if the bill became law.

This month, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau suggested he was unwilling to compromise with tech companies on the Online News Act.

“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 are resorting to bullying tactics to try and get their way.” are,” he told reporters, “It will not work.”

Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in regulations governing the Internet and e-commerce, said the efforts could backfire.

“This will disproportionately hurt smaller and independent media outlets and leave the sector in poor quality sources,” Professor Geist said. “Worst: It was completely predictable and avoidable.”

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