Canada Access Free Expression

Meta and Google announce news blocking following Bill C-18

Shortly after receiving royal assent, Bill C-18 brings long-anticipated news blocking.

JUNE 29 2023 — Today Google announced plans to block news on their platforms upon the implementation of Bill C-18, the Online News Act. Meta has also announced plans for news blocking, although the company has not announced when this would take place. The bill was first introduced in April 2022, and passed through the House of Commons earlier this month. OpenMedia, academics, and other stakeholders warned that in practice, Bill C-18 would reduce quality news in Canada and lead to news censorship. 

Bill C-18 requires Google and Meta to pay media outlets for sharing news content on their platforms. Although initially posited as a solution to the dying news industry, the bill will instead disproportionately support legacy media outlets, and limit the availability of news to Canadians. 

“This is exactly what we warned Heritage Minister Rodriguez about,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “Unfortunately, the way this bill was written made news blocking inevitable. If C-18 wasn’t based on the false premise that platforms are profiting from making news content available to Canadians, it wouldn’t be so easy for Google and Meta to be walking away from news right now. Instead of building a much-needed sustainable funding model that would support quality and diverse news, C-18’s failures will make it even more difficult for Canadians to access the news they need on the platforms they use. The government must take this occasion to pause C-18, and come back with solutions that make Canadian news sustainable and available.”

Since May 2022, OpenMedia community members have sent over 13,000 messages to MPs, Senators, and the Department of Canadian Heritage calling for greater transparency and protections to support quality news in Canada in Bill C-18. The CRTC will likely begin public consultations on the implementation of Bill C-18 in the coming months. 

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