Google to Stop Sharing News Links in Canada
Google has announced plans to halt its news-related services in Canada due to the newly enacted Online News Act, known as Bill C-18.
In a blog post, Kent Walker, President of Global Affairs at Google & Alphabet, criticized the legislation for creating financial uncertainty and disrupting the way online search engines operate.
Bill C-18 mandates that certain tech companies pay for showcasing links to news content, a service typically provided free of charge. Google has argued against this law for over a year, claiming that it poses a threat to journalism in Canada and could trigger significant changes to its products.
As a result of the legislation, Google will remove links to Canadian news from its Search, News, and Discover products once the law is enacted. The company also stated that the law would make it impossible to continue offering its Google News Showcase product in Canada.
Despite Google’s willingness to contribute more to Canadian journalism – it currently supports over 150 news publications across Canada through its Google News Showcase program – the company insists that Bill C-18, also dubbed the “link tax,” is unfeasible.
Last year, Google linked to Canadian news publications more than 3.6 billion times for free, contributing an estimated CAD $250 million in referral traffic to these publications.
Google has actively participated in discussions with the Canadian government since the introduction of Bill C-18, aiming to make the law more manageable for both platforms and publishers. However, none of the company’s suggested amendments were accepted. Google even endorsed an alternative model, an independent fund supported by both platforms and the government to aid Canadian journalism, a model that has proven successful elsewhere.
The tech giant had sought clarity on the financial expectations for linking to news and a specific path towards exemption based on its support programs and commercial agreements with publishers. Although the government acknowledged Google’s concerns, the company remains unsatisfied with the lack of certainty offered about the upcoming regulatory process.
Google plans to participate in the regulatory process and remains committed to transparency as the situation evolves. However, unless the government outlines a feasible path forward, Google warns that Bill C-18 could restrict Canadians’ ability to find news online, limit journalists’ reach to their audiences, and reduce valuable free web traffic to Canadian publishers.
The move by Google follows Meta’s similar decision to halt news sharing on Facebook and Instagram when Bill C-18 goes live.
I can’t tell you how bad Bill C-18 is for small independent publishers like us, at a time when the economy is already in tatters. This will affect us as our stories won’t be discovered by Google services. You can help support us by considering the use of our Amazon link when you shop online (add to your bookmarks), or you can also buy me a coffee here.