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Meta makes good on news blackout threat

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee on tech sector regualtion

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee on tech sector regualtion

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has officially started to restrict access to Canadian news outlets on its feeds in Canada. The move is a response to the Online News Act, a federal law requiring tech giants who link to Canadian news to pay domestic publishers. Google is threatening to do the same.

The legislation is similar to an Australian law – the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code – passed in 2021. Facebook blocked news in Australia at the time but restored access after the government amended the code.

Ottawa’s Liberal government has denounced the move to block access to Canadian news on Facebook and Instagram. Newly appointed Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge, who took over the file from former minister Pablo Rodriguez in last week’s Cabinet shuffle, called the move “irresponsible.”

The government has vowed to stay the course. Meta and Google have promised the same.

In early July, US Senator Amy Klobuchar came out swinging in favor of Canada, urging Trudeau’s government to stay the course in its struggle with the platforms. She is pushing a similar law in Congress. Around the same time, a California bill similar to the Canadian and Australian laws – the California Journalism Competition and Preservation Act– was put on hold until 2024 after passing through the legislature with support from both Democrats and Republicans. It’s now stuck in the state senate, where it will undergo hearings in the fall.

As the US and other jurisdictions look to emulate Australia and Canada, the struggle north of the border is a case study in what’s to come – and a sort of global pilot project. Congress, California, and much of the globe will be watching to see who prevails in the Meta-Canada fight, since they may end up in a similar struggle of their own.


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