Ismail Shakeel and Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that Google's blocking of news content was a "huge mistake" for Alphabet Inc in the face of a government bill that would force the tech giant to pay Canadian publishers for news content.
This week, Google said it was testing a news block for some Canadian users in response to the Trudeau government's "Online News Act," which is about to become law.
Speaking to reporters in Toronto, Trudeau said the suppression of the news in Canada is something he "loves."
“I am very surprised that Google decided to block Canadians from accessing the news instead of paying journalists for their work.
"I think this is a big mistake and I know Canadians expect journalists to be well paid for their work."
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The "Online News Act," introduced by Trudeau's liberal government last year, lays down rules for platforms like Facebook and Google Meta to conduct business and pay news publishers.
Facebook has raised concerns about the law and warned that it may be forced to stop sharing news on its platform.
The law was passed by Canada's House of Commons in December and is currently in the unelected upper house of parliament, which rarely blocks laws passed by the lower house.
The rules are meant to help Canada's news industry, which is calling for regulation of tech companies, citing mounting financial losses as Facebook and Google grab more market share of online advertising revenue.
Ottawa's proposal is similar to a landmark Australian law passed in 2021 that prompted Google and Facebook to threaten to shut down their services. After both proposed some changes to the law, they finally signed agreements with Australian media companies.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakeel and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Josie Cao)