Justin Trudeau criticizes Google for blocking journalistic content

Justin Trudeau criticizes Google for blocking journalistic content

Justin Trudeau criticizes Google for blocking journalistic content

Chris Young The Canadian Press During a press briefing in Toronto on Friday, Justin Trudeau did not mince his words. words against Google.

Google made a “terrible mistake”, according to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, by preventing some Canadians from accessing journalistic content through its platform.

During a press conference in Toronto on Friday, the latter did not mince his words against the web giant.

“I think it is extremely surprising that Google prefers preventing Canadians from accessing the news rather than wanting to pay journalists for the work they do as professionals. It's really sad,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau made the remarks at the end of a period of his press conference intended to answer questions from reporters. No media representative has challenged him on the subject of the new Google initiative, but the Prime Minister insisted on addressing the issue, mentioning that it bothers him.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the digital platform confirmed that the American company limits access to online news content to less than 4% of its Canadian users. The company said the tests were conducted over five weeks and involved several of its products, such as its popular search engine and Discoveries feature on Android devices that broadcast news and sports reports. .

This is a response to the Trudeau government's Bill C-18 aimed at forcing web giants such as Google and Meta — the parent company of Facebook — to negotiate with Canadian media to conclude compensation agreements for the republication of their journalistic content.

“We are briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a very small percentage of Canadian users,” Google spokesperson Shay Purdy said in a written statement Wednesday. /p>

On Friday, Trudeau said Canadians expect “journalists to be well paid for the work they do.”

Meta also threatened to remove journalistic content from its social network in Canada. The company did the same in Australia when a similar law was passed, but eventually backtracked.

Google said it was “completely transparent” about its concerns about the piece of legislation put forward by Ottawa and currently being considered by senators.

“We remain committed to supporting a sustainable future for news in Canada and to providing solutions that fix Bill C-18” , Mr. Purdy added.

The company would rather contribute to a fund similar to the Canada Media Fund than the approach advocated by the Trudeau government.

The Department of Heritage estimates that 450 news outlets have gone out of business from 2008 to 2021 as web giants reap huge profits by sharing journalistic content.

If the effect of the legislation proves comparable to the similar Australian law, the sums going to the Canadian news media could “go somewhere between 150 and 200 million dollars”, said the minister responsible for this file, Pablo Rodriguez, when presenting Bill C-18.

If the Liberal proposal is adopted, the platforms subject to the future law will have six months to conclude agreements on a voluntary basis with media and demonstrate to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that these agreements meet six criteria.

The Liberals say, among other things, that the agreements provide “equitable compensation” to news organizations and that they contribute to “the viability of independent local news organizations.”

The Liberals believe their approach would restore the relationship of force in the negotiations in favor of the media which are, in their opinion, disadvantaged in the current state of affairs.

Several media groups have already concluded agreements with Meta and Google, which have remained confidential . The Canadian Press has also partnered with Meta since 2020 for a program aimed at providing around ten scholarships per year to young journalists at the start of their careers.

By testifying before a committee of the House of Commons, representatives of Meta had reported that it had “never paid for links” under its agreements with Canadian and Australian news groups and had no intention of doing so in the future.