Google to remove news links in Canada over law on paying publishers

(Reuters) – Google will remove links to Canadian news from search results and other products in Canada when a law requiring internet giants to pay news publishers comes into effect, the Alphabet-owned (GOOGL.O) company said on Thursday.

Google joins Facebook-owner Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) in announcing an end to news access for Canadian users of their platforms after Bill C-18, or the Online News Act, was passed into law last week. The law is expected to come into effect in six months.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who introduced the bill last year, has said platforms do not have any obligations under the act immediately and that the government was open to consulting with them on the regulatory and implementation process.

Canada’s media industry has called for tighter regulation of tech companies to prevent them from elbowing news businesses out of the online advertising market.

“We have now informed the government that when the law takes effect, we unfortunately will have to remove links to Canadian news from our Search, News and Discover products in Canada,” Google said in a blogpost.

“We don’t take this decision or its impacts lightly and believe it’s important to be transparent with Canadian publishers and our users as early as possible,” it said.

The act outlines rules to force platforms such as Facebook and Google to negotiate commercial deals and pay news publishers for their content, a step similar to a groundbreaking law passed in Australia in 2021.

The U.S. technology companies have said the proposals are unsustainable for their businesses. Google has argued Canada’s law is broader than those in Australia and Europe, saying it puts a price on news story links displayed in search results and can apply to outlets that do not produce news.

The search engine giant had proposed that the bill be revised to make the displaying of news content, rather than links, as basis for payment and to specify that only businesses that produce news and adhere to journalistic standards are eligible.

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