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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls Google news-blocking in Canada a “terrible mistake”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls Google news-blocking in Canada a “terrible mistake”

On Friday, February 24, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that it was a “terrible mistake” for Alphabet Inc’s Google to block news content in reaction to a government bill that would compel the tech giant to pay publishers in Canada for news content.

Meanwhile, this week, Google said it was testing blocking the access of some Canadian users to the news. This comes as a potential response to the Canadian government’s Online News Act, expected to be passed into law.

Speaking to reporters in Toronto, Justin Trudeau mentioned that the blocking of news in Canada was an issue that bothers him. He said, “It really surprises me that Google has decided that they’d rather prevent Canadians from accessing news than actually paying journalists for the work they do.”

He added, “I think that’s a terrible mistake and I know Canadians expect journalists to be well paid for the work they do.”

On the other hand, Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google Canadian PM Trudeau

The Online News Act

The Online News Act got introduced by Trudeau’s Liberal government in 2022. It created rules for platforms like Meta’s Facebook and Google to negotiate commercial deals and pay news publishers.

Also, social media giant Facebook has expressed its concern about the legislation and warned it might be forced to block news-sharing on its platform.

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In December, the legislation passed Canada’s House of Commons. Currently, it is in the unelected upper chamber of the parliament, rarely blocking legislation of the lower house clears.

The rules aim to help the Canadian news industry, which has called for regulation of tech firms, citing growing financial losses while Facebook and Google steadily gain more significant online advertising income market share.

Ottawa’s proposal is similar to a ground-breaking law that Australia passed in 2021. It also triggered threats from Google and Facebook to curtail their services. Both eventually struck deals with Australian media companies after a series of amendments to the legislation were offered.

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