Canada’s Online News Act Gains Quiet International Support, Says PM
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed that other countries are quietly supporting Canada’s Online News Act, also known as C-18, which passed the House of Commons in June. The legislation mandates that tech giants Google and Meta pay Canadian media outlets for news content shared or repurposed on their platforms.
Meta has already removed news and content from Canadian publishers and broadcasters, while Google has said it will also do the same. Small digital-only publishers have since seen their Facebook and Instagram traffic plummet to zero, after the Online News Act became law and Meta opted to block news sharing to adhere to the law.
Trudeau, who recently returned from a G20 meeting in India, stated that other nations are encouraging Canada to maintain its stance. “Countries around the world are actually saying, ‘Stand strong because this really matters,'” Trudeau told CBC’s Front Burner host Jayme Poisson.
The government disclosed that Google and Meta had a combined 80% share of Canada’s $14 billion online ad revenue in 2022. The CBC, as a news organization, could financially benefit from C-18, which requires an annual report on any compensation it receives from digital operators.
“Meta has a huge amount of power,” said Trudeau. “If you don’t have quality, independent journalism, then your democracy erodes even faster than it is now. We’re simply asking that Meta be consequential and responsible. And what they’ve chosen to do? Is block people from sharing articles about wildfires, because they don’t want to pay for local journalism,” said the Prime Minister.
Trudeau’s comments come as other governments are considering similar regulations. A bill in California resembling the Online News Act could soon become law, and Meta has threatened to remove news from its platforms in that state. The New Zealand government is also seeking public input on a similar bill.
“They’re [saying], ‘You go Canada, you take this fight.’ So we’ll do it. We don’t mind doing it because it’s so important,” said Trudeau.
Earlier this month, the Canadian government released draft regulations estimating that Google and Meta would have to pay a combined $234 million to Canadian media outlets to comply with the law. The act applies to companies with a total global revenue of $1 billion or more, operating in a search engine or social media market in Canada, and having 20 million or more average monthly unique Canadian visitors or users.