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Google warns online news bill could make it subsidize biased news outlets

OTTAWA – Google is warning that the federal authorities’s on-line information invoice may pressure it to subsidize non-authoritative or biased information sources, such because the Russian state-sponsored information company Sputnik.

However the group representing Canada’s information media trade says the wording of the invoice is tight and particularly excludes retailers that promote the pursuits of a company.

Google argues the invoice’s definition of an eligible information supply is so broad that non-professional information retailers with two or extra journalists in Canada, together with these funded by international states, might be eligible for fee from tech giants.

The net information invoice, modelled on the same legislation in Australia, is designed to assist Canada’s information trade and fight the unfold of reports from biased or unreliable sources.

The invoice, often known as C-18 in Parliament, would make tech giants equivalent to Google and Meta pay for reusing information produced by Canadian information organizations.

The proposed laws would additionally stop tech giants penalizing or giving desire to information organizations it has reached agreements with.

However Google says this might have an effect on the best way it ranks information on its search engine and moderates content material.

After the warfare in Ukraine started, it started limiting the visibility of state-controlled Russian media group RT, together with on the Google Information search software.

Lauren Skelly, a spokeswoman for Google, mentioned the search engine may face “the imposition of large fines for presenting probably the most helpful and dependable content material to Canadians and imposing our personal insurance policies.”

Skelly mentioned the tech large helps the central purpose of the invoice however is anxious the laws, as drafted, may have unintended penalties, together with making it pay information companies that don’t meet journalistic requirements.

This might probably embody two individuals who arrange a digital information group from their basement, international state-sponsored information teams with a bureau in Canada or information retailers with a far-left or far-right bias.

“We’ve to imagine this isn’t an final result policymakers supposed and hope to work with them to handle these issues,“ Skelly mentioned.

“The laws as written makes use of an especially broad definition for eligible information companies and ‘undue desire’ provisions that, when put into observe, may end in necessary fee for content material that doesn’t meet primary journalistic requirements.“

However the president of Information Media Canada, which represents the nation’s information media trade, mentioned the proposed legislation is worded rigorously.

“This is superb laws that particularly excludes information retailers that promote the pursuits of a company versus producing authentic information content material of common curiosity,” mentioned Paul Deegan.

“The invoice will enable many smaller publishers to return collectively and negotiate content material licensing agreements with huge tech companies. We urge parliamentarians of all events to work collectively and cross this urgently wanted laws earlier than the summer time recess.”

Canadian Heritage mentioned in a press release that “it’s not the position of the federal government to resolve what’s and isn’t on-line information.”

“There may be an goal set of standards, faraway from political decision-making, to find out qualifying information organizations. A free and unbiased press is important to democracy,” it mentioned.

When it introduced Invoice C-18, the federal authorities mentioned the laws will guarantee Canadians have entry to high quality, fact-based information at a time of rising disinformation and public distrust.

The printed regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Fee, shall be given the job of designating what qualifies as a information group.

The invoice says to qualify, a information group must be designated as a Canadian journalism group beneath the Revenue Tax Act or produce information content material totally on issues of common curiosity, and function and make use of two or extra journalists in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Could 14, 2022.


Meta funds a fellowship that helps journalism positions at The Canadian Press.


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