Google removes links to California news sites amid legislative dispute

Google has labelled the decision a ‘test’, which has sparked criticism from lawmakers and industry figures. They accuse the tech giant of suppressing vital information and wielding undue influence.

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Google announced its decision to remove links to California news websites in response to proposed state legislation requiring tech giants to pay news outlets for their content. The company asserts that this action is a test aimed at assessing how the legislation will affect user experience.

The proposed California Journalism Preservation Act seeks to mandate digital platforms like Google and Meta to pay a ‘journalism usage fee’ to news outlets when their content is used alongside digital ads. Lawmakers and supporters argue that tech companies benefit financially from sharing content without adequately compensating publishers. The California State Senate President Pro-Tempore criticised Google’s action, calling it an abuse of power and a threat to public safety.

The president and CEO of the California News Publishers Association accused Google of suppressing California news and emphasised the need for legislative action. Google has opposed similar measures in other countries, citing concerns about business uncertainty.

Why does it matter?

Google’s decision to remove links to California news websites calls attention to the ongoing debate over legislation requiring tech giants to pay news outlets for content usage. As more people shift from traditional news outlets to online platforms, there’s growing concern about the increasing control tech companies have over content access. Previous reactions from Google to similar laws in Canada and Australia, where negotiations and voluntary agreements were pursued instead of direct payment for links, suggest a potential trend in how the situation might unfold in California.