Google says proposed Online News Act changes fail to address its concerns

The tech giant still plans to pull Canadian news content from search

Google says it still has potential plans to restrict search results for Canadian news despite the Liberal government proposing changes to the Online News Act (Bill C-18) in an effort to appease the tech giant.

Bill C-18 aims to offer support to the news industry by requiring big tech companies, namely Google and Meta, to pay Canadian media outlets for their content. Google’s key concern with Bill C-18 relates to what it describes as “uncapped financial liability,” given it’s unclear how much the company would need to pay news organizations.

The proposed changes to the act include a minimum of what the government expects companies like Google and Meta to spend. When the regulation was first revealed, government officials said Google could contribute $172 million and Facebook $62 million a year. On Google’s end, the tech giant wants more clarity regarding how platforms can be exempt from the program by making their own deals with news organizations.

Google released the following statement to The Globe and Mail, following a 30-day public consultation regarding the Online News Act:

“Unfortunately, the proposed regulations fail to sufficiently address the critical structural problems with C-18 that regrettably were not dealt with during the legislative process. We continue to have serious concerns that the core issues ultimately may not be solvable through regulation and that legislative changes may be necessary. We have been and will remain engaged and transparent with the government about our concerns and will await the publication of final regulations.”

The tech giant has repeatedly threatened to pull Canadian news from Google Search and other Google products over the legislation. Meta is already blocking some Canadian news on Facebook and Instagram in Canada, including our content, despite MobileSyrup not qualifying for the program under its current framework. (Some readers can still view our Facebook and Instagram pages.)

The office of Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge released the following statement regarding the government’s ongoing negotiations with Google:

We remain confident that we can work constructively to address questions or concerns through the regulatory process.”

Regarding Bill C-11, the CRTC recently announced plans to introduce a new regulatory framework that includes requiring online streaming services operating in Canada earning $10 million or more in annual revenue to complete a registration form before November 28th.

Source: The Globe and Mail, National Post