Google has started temporarily restricting news results for approximately four percent of randomly selected Canadian users in tests that will last five weeks.
The decision directly responds to an online news bill called C-18, currently under debate in the Canadian parliament.
The bill introduced last spring would require internet companies like Google and Facebook to pay news publishers for using their content.
Bill C-18 is based on similar legislation in Australia and would allow binding arbitration if the tech companies refuse to pay publishers.
The tests will affect web search and the Discover feature on Android devices. A Google spokesperson confirmed the testing.
Google Criticizes “Link Tax”
Google has been critical of Bill C-18, also called The Online News Act, since it was proposed in 2022.
The search company claims the “link tax” legislation would harm Google, Canadian news p2ublishers, and readers.
Google also believes that the proposed law would set a bad precedent for other countries to follow, potentially harming the open nature of the internet.
Canada’s Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer reports that the bill could force Google to pay approximately CAD 329.2 million (or roughly USD 242.99 million) to news publishers yearly.
This would cover around 30% of publishers’ editorial costs.
In contrast, Google’s search revenues amounted to $42.60 billion in the fourth quarter of last year alone.
Google’s Decision To Block News Raises Concern
This move has sparked concerns from publishers relying on news content to drive website traffic, as blocking the content could result in fewer visitors.
Google’s decision to stop showing news has worried people about censorship and the right to know.
There is a lot of talk in Canada about controlling what’s online while letting people express themselves.
If this law passes, it will change how things work online in Canada, which could impact publishers who work there. As things go on, people in the industry need to stay updated and change how they operate if they need to.
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