The Hamilton Spectator
Google to block news content for some users
Google is blocking some Canadian users from viewing news content in what the company says is a test run of a potential response to the Liberal government’s online news bill.
Also known as Bill C-18, the Online News Act would require digital giants such as Google and Meta, which owns Facebook, to negotiate deals that would compensate Canadian media companies for republishing their content on their platforms.
The company said Wednesday that it is temporarily limiting access to news content for under four per cent of its Canadian users as it assesses possible responses to the bill. The change applies to its ubiquitous search engine as well as the Discover feature on Android devices, which carries news and sports stories.
All types of news content are being affected by the test, which will run for about five weeks, the company said. That includes content created by Canadian broadcasters and newspapers.
“We’re briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a very small percentage of Canadian users,” Google spokesman Shay Purdy said Wednesday in response to questions from The Canadian Press.
The company runs thousands of tests each year to assess any potential changes to its search engine, he added.
“We’ve been fully transparent about our concern that C-18 is overly broad and, if unchanged, could impact products Canadians use and rely on every day,” Purdy said.
A spokesperson for Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Canadians will not be intimidated and called it disappointing that Google is borrowing from Meta’s playbook.