Google will end limited censorship for user search in Canada starting this week

Google will end limited censorship for user search in Canada starting this week

Google will end limited censorship for user search in Canada starting this week

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Alphabet’s Google will stop blocking news articles from search results for some Canadian users on March 16, a company executive told a Canadian parliamentary panel investigating the tech company on Friday.


Last month, Google began testing limited news censorship as a potential response to a Canadian government bill that aims to force online platforms to pay publishers in Canada for news content.

Google said the test was like thousands of other product tests the company conducts on a regular basis.

Testing, which the company says affected less than 4% of Canadian users, began Feb. 9 and was expected to last five weeks.

Speaking to a parliamentary committee set up to investigate the tests, Google public policy chief Jason Kee confirmed that the tests would end next week.

“I want to emphasize that this is for testing only. No decisions have been made regarding product changes,” Kee said.

Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a “terrible mistake” on Google’s part to block news content in reaction to the “Online News Act”, a government bill who created rules for platforms like Facebook and Meta’s Google to negotiate business deals and pay. news editors.

“It really surprises me that Google has decided that it would rather prevent Canadians from accessing information than pay journalists for the work they do,” he said at the time.

During the roundtable, questions were raised about local media, such as the local weeklies 13-14 that MP Martin Shields has in his constituency.

“I think the lockdown is something that irritates the local people, the grassroots people. The unintended consequences here of this decision, I don’t think it’s a way to negotiate and I think it’s a mistake of your part,” Shields told Sabrina Geremia. , the head of Google Canada.

Geremia said Google is a contributor to news in Canada, generating 3.6 billion free hits from Canadians visiting links to news sites, and has licensing deals with more than 150 publications from coast to coast. the other.

Facebook has also raised concerns about the legislation and warned it could be forced to block information sharing on its platform.

Canada’s news media industry has called on the government to further regulate tech companies to allow the industry to recoup the financial losses it has suffered over the years when tech giants have steadily won a higher advertising market share.

Ottawa’s proposal is similar to groundbreaking legislation Australia passed in 2021, which also sparked threats from Google and Facebook to restrict their services. The two eventually struck deals with Australian media companies after a series of legislative amendments were proposed.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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