Meta Platforms Inc plans to end access to news on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada once legislation passed by parliament takes effect requiring internet giants to pay news publishers, the company said Thursday.
The legislation, known as the Online News Act, was approved by the Upper House of the Senate earlier on Thursday and will become law after royal assent from the governor general, a formality.
The legislation was proposed after complaints from the Canadian media industry, which wants tighter regulation of technology companies to prevent them from displacing news companies from the online advertising market.
“Today, we confirm that the availability of news on Facebook and Instagram to all users in Canada will end before the Online News Act takes effect,” Meta said in a statement.
Facebook telegraphed such a move for weeks, saying that news has no economic value to the company and that its users do not use the platform for news.
The law outlines rules to force platforms such as Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to make commercial deals and pay news publishers for their content, a move similar to a landmark law passed in Australia in 2021.
The US tech companies have said the proposals are unsustainable for their companies. Google has argued that Canadian law is broader than those in Australia and Europe, saying it puts a price on links to news stories that appear in search results and could apply to outlets that don’t produce news.
The search engine giant proposed revising the bill to make the display of news content, rather than links, the basis for payment and to specify that only companies that produce news and adhere to journalistic standards are eligible.
A Google spokesperson said on Thursday that the bill remains “unworkable” and that the company urgently sought to work with the government “on a path forward.”
The federal government of Canada has so far resisted suggestions to make changes. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Meta and Google used “bullying tactics” while campaigning against the legislation.
Google and Facebook had also threatened to curtail their services in Australia when similar rules came into effect. Both eventually struck deals with Australian media companies after amendments to the legislation were offered.
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who introduced the bill last year, said on Thursday the government will “start a regulatory and implementation process” after the legislation comes into effect.
“If the government can’t stand up for Canadians against tech giants, who can?” Rodriguez said in a statement.
The heritage ministry has met with Facebook and Google this week and looks forward to further discussions, a government spokesman said.
Danielle Coffey, president of global industry group News Media Alliance, said Canada’s parliament should be “applauded for standing up to Big Tech” following the passage of the bill in the Senate.
“We are encouraged by the increasing recognition of the need for legal action to ensure just compensation, both in Canada and abroad, and we hope the United States follows suit,” said Coffey.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and was published from a syndicated news agency feed – Reuters)