Google tests to block news content for some Canadians


OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Google blocked some Canadian users from viewing news content on Wednesday in what the company said was a test run of a potential response to the Canadian government’s online news bill. blocking.

Bill C-18 (Online News Act) negotiates deals to compensate digital giants such as Meta, which owns Google and Facebook, for Canadian media companies republishing their content on their platforms need to do it.

The company said it is temporarily restricting access to news content for less than 4% of Canadian users as it evaluates possible responses to the bill. The change applies to the ubiquitous search engine and his Discover feature on Android devices that tells news and sports stories.

The company says the test will last about five weeks and will affect all types of news content. This includes content produced by Canadian broadcasters and newspapers.

Google spokesperson Shay Purdy said in a statement Wednesday in response to questions from the Canadian Press:

Political cartoons about world leaders

political cartoons

The company conducts thousands of tests each year to evaluate potential search engine changes, he added.

“We have been completely transparent about our concerns that C-18 is overly pervasive and, if left unchecked, could impact the products Canadians use and depend on every day. It’s been a long time,” Purdy said.

A spokesman for Canada’s Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Canadians will not be intimidated and said he was disappointed Google was borrowing from Meta’s playbook. Last year, the company threatened to block news from the site in response to the bill.

“This didn’t work in Australia. Canadians aren’t intimidated, so it doesn’t work here either. Ultimately, all we want from the tech giants is to compensate journalists when they use their work.” is,” spokeswoman Laura Scafidi said in a statement Wednesday.

“Canadians need access to quality, factual news at the local and national level and that is why we introduced the Online News Act. We have to be accountable.”

Rodriguez said the bill, similar to the one Australia passed in 2021, would “increase equity in the digital news market by creating a framework and negotiation process for online giants to pay media outlets. ” claims to be.

However, Google has voiced its concerns before a congressional committee, stating that future legislation would not require publishers to adhere to basic journalism standards, would favor large publishers over smaller outlets, and ” He expressed concern that it could lead to the spread of “cheap, low-quality clickbait content.” About public interest journalism.

The company says it wants to pay a fund similar to the Canadian Media Fund, which pays news publishers indirectly.

The bill passed the Canadian House of Representatives in December and will be considered by the Senate in the coming months.

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