AP

Google tests blocking news content for some Canadians

Feb 22, 2023, 5:26 PM | Updated: 5:36 pm

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

Bill C-18, the Online News Act, would require digital giants such as Google and Meta, which owns Facebook, to negotiate deals that would compensate Canadian media companies for republishing their content on their platforms.

The company said it is temporarily limiting access to news content for under 4% of its Canadian users as it assesses possible responses to the bill. The change applies to its ubiquitous search engine as well as the Discover feature on Android devices, which carries news and sports stories.

All types of news content are being affected by the test, which will run for about five weeks, the company said. That includes content created by Canadian broadcasters and newspapers.

“We’re briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a very small percentage of Canadian users,” Google spokesman Shay Purdy said in a written statement on Wednesday in response to questions from The Canadian Press.

The company runs thousands of tests each year to assess any potential changes to its search engine, he added.

“We’ve been fully transparent about our concern that C-18 is overly broad and, if unchanged, could impact products Canadians use and rely on every day,” Purdy said.

A spokeswoman for Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Canadians will not be intimidated and called it disappointing that Google is borrowing from Meta’s playbook. Last year, that company threatened to block news off its site in response to the bill.

“This didn’t work in Australia, and it won’t work here because Canadians won’t be intimidated. At the end of the day, all we’re asking the tech giants to do is compensate journalists when they use their work,” spokeswoman Laura Scaffidi said in a statement Wednesday.

“Canadians need to have access to quality, fact-based news at the local and national levels, and that’s why we introduced the Online News Act. Tech giants need to be more transparent and accountable to Canadians.”

Rodriguez has argued the bill, which is similar to a law that Australia passed in 2021, will “enhance fairness” in the digital news marketplace by creating a framework and bargaining process for online behemoths to pay media outlets.

But Google expressed concerns in a Parliament committee that the prospective law does not require publishers to adhere to basic journalistic standards, that it would favour large publishers over smaller outlets and that it could result in the proliferation of “cheap, low quality, clickbait content” over public interest journalism.

The company has said it would rather pay into a fund, similar to the Canada Media Fund, that would pay news publishers indirectly.

The bill passed the Canadian House of Commons in December and is set to be studied in the Senate in the coming months.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally Saturday, March 9, 2024, at Pullman Yards in Atlanta...

Associated Press

US shoots down ‘nearly all’ Iran-launched attack drones as Biden vows support for Israel’s defense

Joe Biden cut short a weekend stay at his beach house to meet with his national security team as Iran launched an attack against Israel.

23 hours ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

2 days ago

Former President Donald Trump, center, appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023...

Associated Press

Manhattan court searching for jurors to hear first-ever criminal case against a former president

Jury selection is set to start Monday in former President Donald Trump's hush money case — the first trial of the presumptive nominee.

2 days ago

Emergency personnel arrive on the scene after a  an 18-wheeler crashed into the Texas Department of...

Associated Press

1 dead and 13 injured in semitrailer crash at a Texas public safety office, with the driver jailed

A driver rammed an 18-wheeler though the front of a building where his renewal for a commercial driver’s license had been rejected.

2 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Get Out The Vote rally ...

Associated Press

Trump pushes Arizona lawmakers to ‘remedy’ state abortion ruling that he says ‘went too far’

Donald Trump urged Arizona lawmakers on Friday to swiftly “remedy” the state court ruling allowing prosecutors to enforce an abortion ban.

2 days ago

Biden to require more gun dealers to run background checks....

Associated Press

Biden administration will require thousands more gun dealers to run background checks on buyers

New Biden rule to require thousands more firearms dealers across the United States will have to run background checks on buyers.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Google tests blocking news content for some Canadians