Google Readies To Block Canadian News Content Under Bill C-18

Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google is on the brink of barring Canadians from accessing news links via its search engine, marking yet another setback for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s quest to enforce online content regulations. This development follows hot on the heels of Meta Platforms Inc.’s decision last month to sustain its blockade of Canadian users from viewing news on Facebook and Instagram to sidestep potential legal pitfalls.

The contentious Online News Act, scheduled to become operational on December 19, is at the heart of this tug-of-war. Its goal is to bind giants like Google and Meta to hammer out payment terms with local publishers. Responding to these regulatory pressures, Google spokesperson Shay Purdy voiced apprehensions, hinting that adjustments to the regulations might be insufficient and legislative alterations could be required.

Details released on the specifics of the bill were released on September 1. It suggests that by committing to disburse a minimum of 4% of their yearly Canadian revenue to news entities, both companies could dodge arbitration. By this measure, Google’s annual payout would stand at an approximate C$172 million ($126 million).

However, Google’s recent statement critiqued the regulations, suggesting they blur the lines, mixing the mandatory bargaining framework with a levy model, resulting in a convoluted hybrid system. The tech behemoth lamented this model’s dual drawbacks: it offers neither the clarity of a levy nor the liberty in arrangements, while also encumbering Google with the brunt of the negotiation and disbursement responsibilities.

With the December 19 deadline fast approaching, Google’s recent actions suggest it’s seriously contemplating the drastic measure of severing news links for its Canadian audience. The company has already experimented with such blocks for a subset of Canadian users. With regulatory challenges still unresolved, Google’s statement highlighted a looming “timing problem,” signaling a potential widespread news link suspension in the near future.

Information for this briefing was found via the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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