Bill C-18: Liberal Government’s Online News Act Becomes Law

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s proposed Online News Act that would require social media giants to compensate Canadian media companies for sharing their news content online has officially become law.

Bill C-18, which was first tabled by the Liberals in June 2022, aims to force major social media companies such as Meta and Facebook to pay Canadian news organizations and broadcasters for content shared on their platforms. “The Bill introduces a new bargaining framework intended to support news businesses to secure fair compensation when their news content is made available by dominant digital news intermediaries and generates economic gain,” the government’s explanation reads.

The bill got a thumbs up from the House of Commons in December 2022, and after a series of amendments, the Senate passed the bill into law with a 56 to 22 vote on Thursday.

Tech giant Google argues that the federal government’s move would only provide compensation to large news outlets rather than smaller ones, and won’t hold media companies accountable to journalistic standards, contributing to the spread of misinformation and clickbait. Meta, for its part, doesn’t plan to cater to the Liberal’s new bill, subsequently announcing it will cease Canadians’ access to online news on Facebook and Instagram before the new law takes effect.

The retaliatory move from Meta sends a blow to Trudeau’s government, which has been adamant on compelling tech giants to enter into revenue-sharing deals with Canadian news organizations.

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