During a hearing with Canadian lawmakers on Wednesday, executives from Google and Meta stated that they would remove access to news articles in Canada if legislation requiring internet companies to pay news publishers is approved.
Canada is considering legislation that would require companies like Google and Facebook to negotiate commercial agreements and compensate Canadian news publishers for their content. This is in line with a global movement to hold tech companies accountable for news content.
During testimony to a Senate committee, Richard Gingras, Google’s vice president of news, stated that if a bill passes, Google may have to remove links to news articles in Canadian search results. This is due to a potential financial liability if Google were required to pay publishers for linking to their sites.
Rachel Curran, head of public policy for Meta in Canada, stated that if the bill is passed as currently drafted, the availability of news content in Canada would also come to an end.
Ottawa’s proposal bears resemblance to a law enacted by Australia in 2021, which led to Google and Facebook threatening to limit their services. However, both companies eventually reached agreements with Australian media firms after changes were made to the legislation.
Google conducted tests on blocking news access for certain Canadian users as a potential response to legislation. The move was criticized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called it a “terrible mistake.”
Google last year linked to Canadian news publishers more than 3.6 billion times, Gingras said, helping those companies make money on ads and new subscriptions.
Curran said Facebook feeds sent Canadian publishers more than 1.9 billion clicks in the 12 months ending April 2022, worth an estimated $230 million in free marketing.