Kent Walker, President of Global Affairs at Google & Alphabet, addressed the issue in a blog post, acknowledging the necessity of being transparent with Canadian publishers and users. Walker noted that Google has informed the government of its decision, highlighting that the implementation of the Online News Act would render it untenable for Google to continue offering its Google News Showcase product in Canada. The company expressed disappointment at the situation and the impacts it entails, emphasizing the importance of open dialogue and clarity regarding financial expectations for platforms linking to news.
Bill C-18 and Industry Backlash
Bill C-18 faced criticism from tech giants, including Google and Meta (formerly Facebook). These companies argued that the legislation essentially imposes a tax on links, an unfair burden. Both Google and Meta expressed their support for Canadian journalism, highlighting the role they play in driving traffic to news publications through their platforms. Google, in particular, stressed that it provided over 3.6 billion links to Canadian news publications last year, contributing significantly to publishers' revenue through ad revenue and new subscriptions.
The Quest for Clarity and Unresolved Concerns
Google emphasized its efforts to engage in discussions with the Canadian government regarding critical issues surrounding the legislation. They sought clarity on financial expectations and a viable path for exemption based on their programs to support news and existing commercial agreements with publishers. While the government acknowledged the reasonableness of Google's concerns and agreed to address some issues, Google expressed uncertainty about the regulatory process's ability to resolve structural issues, such as forced payment for links and uncapped financial liability.
Meta's Response and Facebook News Availability
Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook, also took a stance against the legislation, announcing that it would end access to news on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada. In response to the approved legislation, Meta stated that news availability would cease on its platforms before the Online News Act took effect.