Google took its case against Canada’s proposed Online News Act to a parliamentary committee Tuesday, warning MPs that the legislation is flawed and more importantly won’t address the challenges faced by struggling Canadian news organizations.
Concerns about the sustainability of Canadian journalism have been growing, with Bill C-18, the Online News Act currently under debate in Parliament. As stated by head of public policy and government relations for Google Canada Colin McKay, while the company supports a sustainable future for Canadian journalism they don’t think this law will accomplish it.
With its current form, C-18 does not meet the needs of the modern news industry. It will disrupt things for Canadian media and has the potential for unpredictable outcomes.
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The legislation would allow platforms like Google to not give “undue preference” that could work to the disadvantage of any news business. It also has a very broad definition of what constitutes an eligible news operation and doesn’t require such operations to adhere to “basic journalistic standards.”
When it comes to combating fake news online, it’s hard to find a way that works every time to enforce laws. The efficacy of these policies is also limited, because they can’t be applied uniformly across the internet.
The Online News Coalition recently released a report in which it believes that the proposed legislation will lead to biased news outlets being subsidized by Google.
“This policy is not just bad for Canadian freedom of speech or press, it’s also bad for Canadian democracy,” said McKay. “Combined with the new ‘undue preference’ provision, this means Canadians can be subjected to foreign propaganda outlets and their own reporting could be blocked.”
McKay proposed that companies should have the option to enter into voluntary contracts to compensate media outlets for content distributed, such as the deals it has reached with Le Devoir and dozens of other Canadian news organizations. But he declined to reveal any details, saying they were subject to non-disclosure agreements.
CBC’s Colin McKay said the Online News Act needs to be amended.
Although many organizations and institutions appeared before the committee in defense of Google’s position on GDPR, none could offer support for it.
While the five organizations offered suggestions to improve the legislation, the general response from them was that the bill would help Canadian news organizations.
Of all the recent changes to digital advertising, one that’s been ignored is the impact of Google and Facebook’s mass market domination on publishers across Canada. They’ve seen lucrative advertising routes dry up, leaving many newsrooms with no source of revenue.
Google and Facebook account for up to 80 per cent of all online ad revenue in Canada. According to government data, they are responsible for $9.7 billion dollars in annual sales.
Watch Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez outline an online news bill
Canadian heritage minister announces the future of their plan to improve the standard of craftsmanship in today’s news media
Pablo Rodriguez, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, has announced that Canada is introducing legislation to force digital giants like Facebook to compensate news publishers for the use of their content.
The journalism industry is facing an uncertain future in Canada, with many jobs disappearing as new media emerge and general coverage dwindles.
Rodriguez introduced a bill on April 6, explaining the “market imbalance” that allows Google and Facebook to profit from free news content on their sites.
“News outlets and journalists must receive fair compensation for their work,” he said. “It shouldn’t be free.”
Witnesses told the committee in Australia that money started to flow in because of legislation.
What really matters is that this legislation is actually proving to be effective. The Australian Legislation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and it’s not just Google fighting it, either.
“They’ve landed on a workable solution in Australia,” he said.