Canadian Officials ‘Must Call Google’s and Facebook’s Bluff on News’

Brian Merchant, of the Los Angeles Times, with a different take on the Bill C–18 fallout:

California and Canada must absolutely not give in to the tech giants’ tantrum. This is a bluff, and not a particularly convincing one. For the sake of the beleaguered news industries in both places (yes, including this media outlet), the Canadian and Californian governments must absolutely call it.

For assurance, we should look to Australia, where a like-minded bill went into law in 2021, even after Google and Facebook made the same exact threats. Facebook did initially restrict access to news, but the ploy lasted barely a week before it backfired wildly, and Facebook agreed to comply, albeit after extracting some concessions.

Merchant makes a compelling case, but it does not sway me. For one, the proliferation of similar bills around the world will cause Meta and Google to dig in more. For another, it is still a link tax — it still means a fundamental component of the web is subject to fees and bureaucracy even this government- and regulation-loving writer cannot agree with.