The world’s most popular search engine, Google, is in the process of temporarily restricting access to specific online news articles for a subset of Canadian consumers.
This action is part of a test run that is being carried out in preparation for the planned internet censorship bill of the Canadian federal government, known as Bill C-18. The bill, which is also known as the Online News Act, would mandate that Canadian social media firms pay traditional media outlets for the use of their news material on their own platforms.
Google has verified that a fraction of one percent fewer than four percent of users in Canada would be impacted by the temporary limiting of news material. This restriction is applicable to all forms of news items, including those pertaining to Canada, and will remain in place for about five weeks. According to the firm, the limitation has an effect on the Google search engine as well as the Explore function that is available on Android devices and provides smartphone users with the news.
They are “briefly evaluating potential product responses to Bill C-18,” according to a statement made by Shay Purdy, a representative for Google. Purdy said that Google is being very open and honest about its concerns over the proposed law. Google is concerned that the bill might have an adverse effect on goods that Canadians use and rely on on a daily basis if the law is not amended.
The Senate is now debating Bill C-18, which is currently in its second reading. Late in 2017, the measure was rushed through the House of Commons by the Liberal administration of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Nevertheless, detractors of the law have cautioned that it would constitute an assault on independent media, and others have warned that it might lead to the “death” of a free press in Canada.
Dr. Michael Geist, who teaches law at the University of Ottawa and holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, believes that the method that Bill C-18 takes might have negative consequences. In a post on his blog, he made the observation that the proposed rule “ascribes value to connections where there isn’t any,” that it “regulates which platforms must pay in order to authorize expression from their users,” and that it “dictates which sources are entitled to remuneration.”
In conclusion, the temporary restriction of access to news information for Canadian users by Google is a response to Bill C-18, which wants to control the payment that social media firms make for news content.
The ramifications of the law are leading certain stakeholders to express their alarm, with some suggesting that it might be harmful to the free press in Canada as a result of its provisions.