The Senate of Canada last Thursday, June 22, passed a bill according to which Google and Meta are obliged to provide the media with a fee for news materials distributed on the platforms of these companies.
The bill, which has not yet become law, was passed in a situation of confrontation between the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and technology giants from Silicon Valley. The official Ottawa claims that this legal initiative is aimed at creating equal conditions for companies that occupy dominant positions in the field of online advertising and the news industry, which demonstrates the dynamics of reduction.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has announced his intention to respond to threats from Facebook and Google. According to him, a radical form of response may be the removal of journalism from the digital platforms of technology giants.
Meta, in response to a request about its attitude to the bill, announced its intention to comply with the requirements of the Canadian government. It means that the company will restrict access to news on Facebook and Instagram for users from Canada. The tech giant did not announce when this decision will be implemented but noted that it will happen before the Online News Act comes into force. The bill will become a binding legal act six months after receiving royal approval.
Lisa Laventure, head of Meta’s communications department in Canada, said that the company has repeatedly warned that the materials of news agencies due to the action of the bill passed by the Canadian parliament will not be available to local users of the virtual platforms of the technology giant.
Traditional media and broadcasting companies supported this legislative initiative. The law is intended to create a situation of more equitable position for players in the online news market. Also, this decision, as expected by its authors and those who support their legal strategy, will attract more money for news departments, which are currently being reduced.
Meta and Google have repeatedly received accusations that, by occupying a dominant position in the advertising industry, they are destroying this sphere and narrowing the activity space of traditional players.
Meta has previously taken measures similar to those provided for by a bill approved by the Canadian government. For example, in 2021, the tech giant briefly blocked news materials on its platform in Australia. This decision was made and implemented after the entry into force of the Australian law on the obligation of technology companies to pay publishers for the use of their plots. Later, the company made a deal with local media.
Laura Scaffidi, a spokeswoman for the Minister of Heritage, said Pablo Rodriguez was due to meet with Google representatives on Thursday. There is no information about this meeting. Early the tech giant announced the possibility of removing news links from its search engine.
Meta is already testing a tool for blocking news materials for 5% of Canadian users. Google tested the operation of a similar algorithm in a pilot project regime earlier this year.
The Online News Act stipulates that tech giants must reach an agreement with news publishers to pay for the content they create. Separately, the bill states that this format of interaction is relevant if digital platforms of companies earn money by posting up-to-date information about events and incidents provided by the media.
Laura Scaffidi said that the very fact of the adoption of the law does not mean for the tech giants the automatic appearance of obligations. She said that the details of the necessary actions of companies against the background of the existence of a new regulatory act will be made public later.
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