WORLD – CANADA
Google has confirmed that it is blocking access to news content for some Canadian users in test mode. It said this is a trial balloon in response to the government’s online news bill, Reuters reported.
“The Online News Act”, or House of Commons Bill C-18, introduced in April by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, imposes rules requiring platforms such as Meta(Facebook) and Google to make commercial deals and pay news publishers for their content.
“We are briefly testing potential responses to Bill C-18, which affects less than 4% of Canadian users and limits Canadian and international news visibility to varying degrees,” a Google spokesperson confirmed to Reuters.
A spokeswoman for Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez called it disappointing that Google is borrowing from the Meta experience.
“Canadians should have access to quality, fact-based news locally and nationally, and that’s why we passed the Online News Act. Technology giants need to be more transparent and accountable to Canadians,” the spokeswoman stressed.
Last year, Meta (Facebook) warned that it could block news content sharing on its platform in Canada because of concerns about legislation that would force digital platforms to pay news publishers.
The Canadian media industry has spoken out against Facebook and asked the government to increase regulation of technology companies, which could allow the industry to recoup the financial losses it has suffered in the years when Facebook and Google steadily gained an increasing share of the advertising market.
Since 2008, more than 450 news outlets have closed in Canada, with 64 of them closed in the past two years.