(OTTAWA) Senior U.S. Google executives assured a House of Commons committee on Thursday that they would have the same “considerations” if the U.S. goes ahead with a bill similar to Canada’s aimed at forcing “web giants” to compensate media outlets for sharing to their news content.
Google’s President of Global Affairs, Kent Walker, however, declined to say whether the company would, if necessary, carry out the same blocking, for five weeks, of certain Canadians’ access to journalistic content through its platform. . What Google describes as one of many tests conducted regularly was done in response to Bill C-18, currently before the Senate.
Pressed by Bloc Québécois Martin Champoux to say whether such an initiative would be taken at the same time in the development of an American law, he replied that it is “of course difficult to speculate”.
“But I would say that we have raised similar concerns […] in the United States and we have consistently done so in countries around the world when we have faced potential new regulations, trying to assess how they would an impact on our services,” Walker told Canadian MPs on the heritage committee.
A few minutes earlier, his colleague Richard Gingras, vice president of Google News, avoided directly answering the liberal Anthony Housefather who asked him if the American Congress would be “treated differently”.
“I would say, quite frankly, if the facts were the same, our considerations would be the same,” the platform representative said.
They defended the idea of having conducted their “tests” at the opening of their testimony under oath.
“Google News costs us millions to operate, but generates no revenue. If we were to pay publishers simply to post links to their sites, causing us to lose money with every click, it would be reasonable for us, or any business, to reconsider why we would continue to do so,” argued Mr. Gingras.
He reiterated that the company would prefer to finance the media through a monetary fund rather than being regulated by the government.
Mr. Gingras also mentioned that tests have also been conducted in Australia, where legislation similar to Bill C-18 has been passed.
The Canadian piece of legislation aims to force digital giants such as Google and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to negotiate deals to compensate Canadian media companies for displaying or providing links to their news content.
Several media have already reached agreements that have remained confidential, but C-18 sets criteria to ensure “fair” agreements.