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Google has recently made an announcement regarding its response to a new law in Canada. The company stated that it will be removing links to Canadian news publications from its Search, News, and Discover platforms. However, it’s important to note that this change will only apply to users accessing Google products within Canada. Global users will still be able to see and access Canadian news sites through Google.

The new law, known as Bill C-18, introduces a “link tax” that requires Google and Meta to pay for displaying links to Canadian news publications. Google argues that this tax disrupts the fundamental functioning of the web and search engines. According to the company, when a price is placed on linking to information, it undermines the concept of a free and open web.

Google emphasized the significant role it played in driving traffic to Canadian news publishers. Last year alone, its products generated over 3.6 billion links to Canadian news sites, resulting in an estimated value of $250 million CAD through advertisements and subscriptions.

In response to the new law, Google has notified the Canadian government of its decision. The removal of links will take effect when the law is implemented in the coming months. Additionally, Google’s News Showcase program, which involves paying publishers to license content for Google News, will be discontinued in Canada.

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Although Google has engaged in discussions with the government, it expresses doubt that the regulatory process will adequately address the underlying structural issues within the legislation.

This situation bears similarities to a previous scenario in Australia two years ago. However, in that case, Google and Meta were able to negotiate direct agreements with publishers, thereby avoiding a link tax. Unfortunately, no such exemption exists in the current Canadian law. Google clarified in a FAQ that it remains willing to financially support journalism in Canada and already does so through initiatives like News Showcase.

It’s important to note that Google will not be making any changes to its SOS alerts. Safety-related information, such as updates on forest fires, floods, and earthquakes, will continue to be displayed in Search and other relevant Google products.

In summary, Google’s decision to remove links to Canadian news publications is a direct response to the new law, Bill C-18. The company believes that the legislation’s link tax undermines the principles of a free and open web. Despite discussions with the Canadian government, Google anticipates that the regulatory process will be unable to address the underlying concerns.

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