Washington — The Heritage Committee in the House of Commons of Canada will meet at a hearing on Friday afternoon to discuss Bill C-18, dubbed “the Online News Act.” The bill would require large “digital news intermediaries” including search engines and social media platforms to pay Canadian news companies to index their content or to enable their users to link to or quote from it. A social media platform could also be liable for payments resulting from a newspaper or broadcaster itself setting up a page on the platform to attract subscribers.
In view of this hearing, the Computer & Communications Industry Association reiterates its concern that, as drafted, the legislation would damage the online ecosystem for companies and users alike, exacerbate news media concentration, and likely disproportionately target U.S. firms, thus implicating Canada’s international trade obligations. In a White Paper released earlier this month, CCIA detailed its analysis of the evolution of the news industry and highlighted flaws in the bill.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Vice President for Digital Trade Jonathan McHale:
“Facilitating the discovery and sharing of information has always been at the heart of the Internet, a source of vast benefits to consumers around the globe. The Online News Act threatens that core function, however, by creating a government-mandated paywall for the spreading of quotes, headlines, and even links. The sustainability of local journalism is crucial to protecting access to information and an informed citizenry. To this end, Internet platforms have a strong record of working with news outlets to develop innovative and mutually beneficial products to promote their digital offerings. Targeting a select few U.S. firms, however, to force payments to Canadian news businesses, would not only constitute an unwarranted and discriminatory subsidy, but worsen competition in the media market by entrenching Canadian media conglomerates. We look forward to continuing to engage in the legislative process and hope that lawmakers move towards fairer methods of strengthening journalism in Canada that work for all parties in the online news landscape.”