Google News has been on a roller coaster ride of controversy since its launch. From major media outlets to governments, they have all been trying to find ways to make extra money from the popular news service. This has recently been seen in Australia and now Canada is the latest country to take aim at Google with its new Online News Act.
Google has confirmed that it is now running tests to block access to news content for some Canadian users as a potential response to the government’s bill. In a statement to Good e-Reader, a Google spokesperson said, “We’re briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a tiny percentage of Canadian users. We run thousands of tests yearly to assess any potential changes to Search.”
So why is Canada looking to pass this law and force Google and Facebook to pay media organizations? The answer lies in the fact that print and digital versions of Canadian news are not making much money due to advertisers shifting their focus to digital ads. Canadian news outlets are looking to recoup some of the financial losses they have suffered as Facebook and Google have gained a larger market share of advertising. Since 2008, more than 450 news outlets in Canada have closed, with 64 closures in the last two years alone.
Google’s decision to block access to news content for some Canadian users has been met with criticism from Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez. In a tweet, he said, “It’s disappointing to hear that Google is trying to block access to news sites. Canadians won’t be intimidated. All we’re asking the tech giants to do is compensate journalists when they use their work.”
It remains to be seen how Google’s decision will affect the news industry in Canada and whether or not the government will be successful in its attempt to get tech giants like Google and Facebook to pay for news content. For now, all we can do is wait and see how this situation plays out.