June 25th, 2024

Google blocking news content for some Canadians in response to government bill

By The Canadian Press on February 22, 2023.

The logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the entrance hall of Google France in Paris Monday, Nov. 18, 2019. Google says it is blocking some Canadian users from viewing news content in response to the Liberal government's controversial online news bill. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Michel Euler

OTTAWA – A spokesman for Google says the tech company is blocking some Canadian users from viewing news content in response to the Liberal government’s online news bill.

The proposed Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18, would require digital giants such as Google and Meta, which owns Facebook, to negotiate deals that would compensate Canadian media companies for republishing their content on their platforms.

The company says it is limiting access to news content online to under four per cent of its Canadian users of its products, including its popular search engine and the Discover feature on Android devices that carries news and sports stories.

The company says all types of news content are being affected by the test, which will run for about five weeks, including content created by Canadian broadcasters and newspapers.

A spokeswoman for Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says Canadians will not be intimidated and called it disappointing that Google is borrowing from Meta’s playbook.

That company threatened to block news off its site last year in response to the bill.

“We’re briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a very small percentage of Canadian users,” Google spokesman Shay Purdy said in a written statement on Wednesday.

The company runs thousands of tests each year to assess any potential changes to its search engine, he added.

“We’ve been fully transparent about our concern that C-18 is overly broad and, if unchanged, could impact products Canadians use and rely on every day,” Purdy said.

“We remain committed to supporting a sustainable future for news in Canada and offering solutions that fix Bill C-18.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2023.

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