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Google says it will remove Canadian news links from searches in the country

The act would require tech giants like Google and Meta to pay Canadian news outlets fees to share their content.
A woman passes by the Google booth at the re:publica 2022 digital media convention in Berlin.
A woman passes by the Google booth at the re:publica digital media convention in Berlin on June 9, 2022. Tobias Schwarz / AFP via Getty Images file

Google announced it will stop showing links to Canadian news on its products in Canada after the passage of the Online News Act, which requires online platforms to pay content fees to Canadian news outlets. 

“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, the president of global affairs at Google and Alphabet, said in a statement Thursday.

Last week, Meta also said it would remove Canadian news from Instagram and Facebook. Google and Meta have pushed back against the Online News Act, soon to be law, which was designed to help struggling news outlets get better compensation from Big Tech. 

Google criticized the law, calling it “unworkable” and “the wrong approach to supporting journalism in Canada.” Google will also end its Google News Showcase program in Canada, which pays news publishers to curate news stories on Google platforms. 

“We’re disappointed it has come to this. 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,” it said.

Google said it helps news publishers make money through ads and new subscriptions that result from exposure on Google platforms. 

Lawmakers introduced the act, known as Bill C-18, in response to the rapid decline of local newsrooms in Canada in recent years, when Big Tech profited off online advertising revenues, according to the Ministry of Canadian Heritage. 

“We want to make sure that the news media and journalists are fairly compensated for their work,” Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement last year.

Bill C-18, which was introduced in April 2022, passed Royal Assent, the last step before it becomes a federal law, on June 22. The act will undergo a regulatory process before it is applied, which Google said it plans to participate in. 

Canada’s bill was modeled on a law in Australia, introduced in 2021, that pushed Google and Meta to pay content fees to Australian news publications. Initially, Facebook removed sharing and viewing of local and international news in Australia, but it restored news access a few days later after negotiations with the Australian government. 

In the last three years, several countries have enforced similar regulations requiring tech companies to pay local news organizations for their online content. 

In 2021, Google agreed to pay French publications to reuse their content. In 2020, through Google News Showcase, it agreed to pay publications in Germany, Brazil, the U.K. and other countries in a deal worth $1 billion. 

Google pulled its news service from Spain in 2014 rather than pay publishers, but it reinstated Spanish news last year after the country’s copyright laws gave news outlets more agency over monetization.

In the U.S., slower progress has been made on efforts to charge Big Tech for news content.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., this month introduced the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which had stalled in previous years, through the Judiciary Committee. It would support news publishers in negotiating with tech platforms for content fees. 

Meta previously spoke against the act, threatening to remove news from its platforms if Congress passed the bill. 

A similar bill was introduced in California in March; it would require social media companies to pay a “journalism usage fee” that includes a percentage of their ad revenue to news publishers.