Contrary to its initial stance, Google has decided not to block news links in Canada following the enactment of new legislation. The company had previously announced plans to remove links to Canadian news stories from Search, News, and Discover when the Online News Act (Bill C-18) became effective in December. However, Google has now reached an agreement with the Canadian government, allowing it to continue providing Canadian news to users.
Minister of Canadian Heritage Pascale St-Onge expressed the resolution, stating, “Following constructive discussions, our government and Google have reached an agreement — they will contribute to the Online News Act. We worked hard to make this possible. This Act is good news for journalism, for online platforms, and for Canadians.”
As part of the agreement, Google will pay news publishers in Canada an estimated $100 million CAD annually, a figure notably lower than the government’s initial projection of around $172 million. The $100 million aligns with Google’s own estimations of the appropriate compensation amount.
The company is still required to finalize an agreement with the media following negotiations. Google initially resisted a mandatory negotiation model involving talks with media organizations. However, recent reports suggest that Google will now negotiate solely with a representative group, reducing the risk of arbitration for the company.
“We thank the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pascale St-Onge, for acknowledging our concerns and deeply engaging in a series of productive meetings about how they might be addressed,” said Kent Walker, President of Global Affairs at Google and Alphabet, in a statement to Engadget. “Following extensive discussions, we are pleased that the Government of Canada has committed to addressing our core issues with Bill C-18, which included the need for a streamlined path to an exemption at a clear commitment threshold. While we work with the government through the exemption process based on the regulations that will be published shortly, we will continue sending valuable traffic to Canadian publishers.”
The agreement between Google and the government will be integrated into the legislative framework of Bill C-18, which must be finalized by mid-December. Despite Google’s initial announcement in June to remove links to Canadian news stories, it did not carry out this threat.
In contrast, Meta has blocked Canadian news links on Facebook and Instagram since June. According to the CBC, Meta has not resumed negotiations with the government. Google and Meta are the only companies meeting the legislative criteria outlined in Bill C-18.