Canada ‘Will Not Back Down’ vs Google in Online News Fight

Federal Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge defended Canada’s Online News Act on Friday, stating that the rapidly changing media landscape necessitates immediate action.

“We need to put our foot in the door and start doing it,” St-Onge said at the MINDS international news agency conference in Toronto, reports The Canadian Press. She added that the government had waited too long to regulate digital platforms and that the law is a starting point for future adaptations.

Google, however, has expressed strong reservations about the act, which is set to be enforced in December. “We continue to have serious concerns that the core issues ultimately may not be solvable through regulation and that legislative changes may be necessary,” said Google Canada spokesman Shay Purdy. The tech giant warned that unless its concerns are addressed, it will remove news links from its search engine by year’s end.

The act aims to compel tech companies like Google and Facebook to compensate media outlets for news articles shared on their platforms. Meta Platforms, Facebook’s parent company, has already started removing news for Canadians on its platforms, a move St-Onge described as an “intimidation tactic.”

Google took issue with the draft regulations’ formula for determining contributions to media outlets. Federal officials estimated that Google would need to offer about $172 million per year to meet the threshold for exemption from the law. “This is well in excess of the economic value Google derives from news-seeking queries,” the company stated in its submission.

St-Onge encouraged other countries to stand firm against tech giants. “Don’t be intimidated. It’s our responsibility to protect press freedoms,” she said. She also mentioned that the government plans to introduce further legislation on artificial intelligence focusing on privacy and content identification.

According to Barron’s, St-Onge said Canada “will not back down” in its online news fight with Google.

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