View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
May 17, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:19am

Google hits back at Canada’s Online News Act, claiming it would ‘break’ its search engine

By William Turvill

Google has hit back at Canada’s attempts to make it pay for news, claiming the government’s Online News Act would “break” its search engine.

In a blog post on Monday, Sabrina Geremia, the vice president and managing director of Google Canada, also suggested the act would harm the nation’s news industry.

Canada’s Online News Act will, like Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code, seek to force Google and Meta/Facebook to negotiate cash-for-content deals with news publishers.

Both Google and Meta spoke out strongly against Australia’s legislation before it was passed into law. Google threatened to withdraw its services from Australia, and Meta blocked news content – as well as other important public information – from its platforms for several days.

Ultimately, both companies remained in Australia and signed content deals with publishers thought to be worth in excess of AU$200m a year.

Click here to subscribe to Press Gazette’s must-read newsletters, Future of Media and Future of Media US

Ottawa’s long-anticipated act was unveiled in early April. As reported by Press Gazette, Google’s vice president of news, Richard Gingras, expressed concerns about the law last month, describing it as “the kind of regulation that breaks the internet”. However, Geremia’s statement today marks Google’s first in-depth critique of the Online News Act.

In the blog, she takes issue with an “extremely broad” eligibility criteria for news publishers, which she says “could create a lower standard for journalism in Canada” and force Google to pay money to “outlets that do not adhere to any journalistic standards, creating a regime that allows bad actors and those peddling misinformation to thrive and profit”.

Content from our partners
How PA Media is helping newspapers make the digital transition
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution

Geremia also expresses concern that eligibility for payments will be determined by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. “The CRTC would be responsible for determining who is a journalist, what is an eligible news business, and how much money will be directed to each entity — decisions far outside its expertise as a broadcast regulator.”

Under a section titled, “The Online News Act would break Google Search. For everyone,” Geremia claims the Online News Act represents a “link tax”. This characterisation has been challenged by the Canadian journalism industry.

She writes: “Requiring payment for links risks limiting Canadians’ access to the information they depend on. The Online News Act would break this critical principle of the internet for everyone.”

Her blog concludes by saying that Google is “concerned that if the proposed bill were to become law, it would likely leave the news industry worse off and hurt your ability to find quality information”.

Responding to Google’s blog, Paul Deegan, chief executive of News Media Canada, said: “The suggestion that this legislation would break the internet is completely ridiculous.

“Enough with the misdirection, it’s time for parliamentarians to pass legislation that will level the playing field by allowing more Canadian publishers to negotiate content licensing agreements with the platforms.”

Robert Whitehead, who has researched big tech-media regulation for the International News Media Association (INMA) for the past four years, said: “I can’t find any evidence to support Google’s claim that these [Australian/ Canadian] media codes break the internet. It just hasn’t happened.

“It is a fundamental mis-read of how they have worked in practice,” added Whitehead, who is based in Sydney. “There’s clearly no link tax and there has been no threat to Google’s search business whatsoever. With nearly all deals in Australia now wrapped up, media and Google are getting along fine.”

Topics in this article : , ,

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network