Google Says Online News Act Fails to Address Concerns

Google has warned that it may restrict Canadians from searching for news on its platforms unless the Canadian government makes amendments to the Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18.

The Act, passed in June and set to take effect on December 19, aims to support the Canadian news industry by requiring large tech companies to pay Canadian media outlets for using their content.

Last month, the federal Heritage Department proposed regulations to clarify the Act’s implementation. These regulations set a seemingly arbitrary $230-million cap on the amount Google and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, would have to contribute to Canada’s news sector. Google’s share would be $172 million.

On the final day of a month-long public consultation, Google released a statement to the Globe and Mail, saying, “Unfortunately, the proposed regulations fail to sufficiently address the critical structural problems with C-18 that regrettably were not dealt with during the legislative process.”

The company added, “We continue to have serious concerns that the core issues ultimately may not be solvable through regulation and that legislative changes may be necessary. We have been and will remain engaged and transparent with the government about our concerns and will await the publication of final regulations.”

Meta has already restricted Canadians from accessing news on its platforms, thereby removing itself from the Act’s jurisdiction. The company has not provided detailed views on the draft regulations and has not engaged with the Heritage Department since the proposals were published.

Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge met with Google representatives to discuss the company’s concerns. Ariane Joazard-Belizaire, a spokesperson for Ms. St-Onge, stated, “Canadians expect tech giants to pay their fair share for news. We look forward to reviewing the submissions.”

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will oversee the Act. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in internet law at the University of Ottawa, noted that the CRTC’s role could hinder Google’s ability to make voluntary deals with media organizations.

The CRTC is also overseeing the new Online Streaming Act, known as Bill C-11. The agency recently announced that online streaming and social media services with annual revenue exceeding $10 million must register by November 28. Elon Musk, owner of X (formerly Twitter), criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for “trying to crush free speech,” labeling the move as “shameful.”

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