Google News Blocks California Media News Links in Response to Proposed Law

Google has decided to block links to California news websites due to proposed state legislation that would require big tech companies to pay news outlets for their content. The company announced this move in a blog post on Friday.

This decision by Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, is seen as a “test” to understand the potential impact of the legislation on user experience. The company claims that only a small percentage of California users will be affected by this change.

The proposed California Journalism Preservation Act aims to make digital platforms like Google and Meta pay a “journalism usage fee” to eligible news outlets when their content is used alongside digital ads. The bill, introduced in March 2023, is still awaiting a hearing by the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee.

The introduction of this legislation comes as more people are turning away from traditional news sources and toward social media and online platforms. Concerns have been raised about how tech companies’ news aggregation practices may divert users from news websites, giving platforms too much control over the content users see.

California State Senate President Pro-Tempore Mike McGuire criticized Google’s decision, calling it an act of “bullying” and an “abuse of power.” He emphasized the importance of news outlets in informing the public about emergencies and local incidents.

Supporters of the bill argue that tech giants profit from sharing content from small and local news publishers without adequately compensating them. They believe it’s time for these companies to pay a fair market value for the journalism they aggregate.

Charles F. Champion, the president and CEO of the California News Publishers Association, accused Google of suppressing California news. He called for policymakers to take action against such behavior.

Google has previously opposed similar legislation in Canada and Australia, threatening to remove links to news content from its search results. However, the company eventually reached agreements with the Canadian and Australian governments to continue providing access to news content while working through the details of the legislation.

In response to the proposed California law, Google argues that the “uncapped financial exposure” created by the legislation would be unworkable. The company believes that the bill, if enacted, would create too much business uncertainty.

With Google reporting revenue of $307.4 billion in 2023, the stakes are high for both the tech giant and the news publishers seeking fair compensation for their content.

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