Meta has announced that will test blocking news sharing in Canada on its platforms Facebook and Instagram in response to Bill C-18’s system of mandated payments for links. Even as some have suggested the position is bluff, the company has not wavered for months as this emerged as the most likely end game. Back in October, it said it was considering blocking news and in March it confirmed it. The government now says it won’t give in to “threats” but the reality is that Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez more accurately described it last year as a “business decision” when he appeared before the Heritage committee. Given that Facebook says news is responsible for only three percent of content on user feeds and that it is highly substitutable (ie. users spend the same amount of time on the platform whether scrolling through news or other content), the business choice seems like an obvious one.
Post Tagged with: "online news act"
Globe Publisher Calls Bill C-18 a “Threat to the Independence of Media” As Government Senate Representative Smears Bill Critics
The Senate hearings on Bill C-18, the Online News Act, resumed yesterday with two blockbuster panels that included the Globe and Mail, News Media Canada, La Presse, Le Devoir, Canadaland, The Line, and Village Media. The unmistakable takeaway was the enormous risks the bill creates to the independence of the press, to the future of digital media, and to the bottom lines of Canadian news outlets across the country. Further, it is increasingly apparent that the government has no real answers to these risks other than sabre rattling with tech companies and questioning the motives of critics of the legislation.
The eagerness to smear anyone who dares criticize the bill provided the most jaw-dropping moment of the hearing with Senator Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate on the bill, suggesting that Bill C-18 criticism from Village Media’s Jeff Elgie, one of Canada’s most successful local digital news organizations, might be motivated by the business benefits of local media shutting down:
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 167: Inside My Senate Committee Appearance on the Many Risks of Bill C-18
Bill C-18, the Online News Act, has now shifted to the Senate, where the Transportation and Communications committee, is reviewing a bill that has led Meta to say it plans to block news sharing in Canada altogether in the bill passes in its current form. I appeared before the committee earlier this month with discussion that focused on a wide range of issues, including the risks of mandating payments for links, the non-compliance with international copyright obligations, why the CBC should not be included in the payment for links system, and how a fund would be a better approach. This week’s Lawbytes podcast goes inside the committee room for my opening statement and exchanges with half a dozen Senators.
A Tax on Freedom Of Expression: Report Suggests Bill C-18 Could Be Expanded Even Beyond Mandated Payment for Links
Google was scheduled to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday to discuss Bill C-18 and its test of the removal of links to Canadian news services for a small percentage of its users, but the meeting was postponed due to technical difficulties. That ensured that the big Bill C-18 news of the day did not come from the hearing, but rather from an exceptional Ricochet Media article featuring comments from Senator Paula Simons that should heighten concern about the government’s intent with Bill C-18. Senator Simons, a longtime journalist and Trudeau appointee to the Senate, raises many concerns with the bill (and a great line that “honest to god, I feel that this is written by people who have never used the Internet”), but I think this is the key passage, which opens the door to targets beyond Google and Facebook:
Then there’s the question of what would happen down the road if Google and Facebook were no longer profitable? Simons told Ricochet that when she raised that question with staff in the Heritage ministry, she was told they “would turn to TikTok.”“I said, ‘Wait a minute! TikTok doesn’t share news links,’” Simons recalled. “And staff said, ‘TikTok shares news stories in other ways. It talks about the news.’ I said, ‘Woah, wait a minute! That’s a fair-use argument.’…Then the official said to me, ‘Lots of Canadians get their news from TikTok.’” But, she pointed out, if a content creator on TikTok talks about something they read, that’s not the same as actually sharing a news story.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 158: In Their Own Words – Ministers, MPs, Senators and Government Officials on Bill C-18
Bill C-18, the Online News Act, has been at the centre of growing firestorm in Canada following reports that Google has begun testing the removal of links to Canadian news services for a small percentage of its users. The issue is headed to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage later today with MPs likely to take turns berating Google executives. If you’re just catching up or don’t understand what the fuss is about, this Law Bytes podcast is for you. While the government tries to spin the bill as a big win for media of all sizes without concerns for the Internet, the reality is far different. But you don’t have to take my word for it. This podcast episode features clips of what Ministers, MPs, Senators, and government officials have already said at committee or in the Senate about the bill.