Google blocks news links in California amid legislative battle

This decision, labeled as a “short-term test” by Google, has drawn criticism from politicians and publishers, who argue it undermines the free flow of information.

Buisinessman holding google logo

Google has responded to a bill proposing payment from tech giants like Google and Meta to news publishers by blocking news links for California-based news organisations in search results for certain Californians. Meta, in turn, threatens to block all news links on its social platforms if the bill is enacted.

This decision comes amidst vigorous lobbying efforts from these companies, arguing that the legislation would impose a ‘link tax’ and disrupt the free exchange of information online. Some small news publishers and business groups also oppose the bill, citing fears of diminished discoverability and potential negative consequences for the broader business landscape. On the other hand, proponents argue that such laws are necessary to sustain journalism in an era where traditional revenue streams have dwindled.

Despite labelling its action as a ‘short-term test,’ Google faced sharp criticism from politicians and publishers who condemned the move as an abuse of power. Nonetheless, California news publishers have not yet felt significant repercussions from Google’s actions.

Why does it matter?

In Australia and Canada, heated battles ultimately ended in compromises. Google and the government brokered a deal in Canada, establishing a yearly $73.5 million news fund for Canadian providers. Nevertheless, Meta persists in blocking news links on Facebook and Instagram in Canada, leading to a marked decline in traffic for Canadian news organisations. Meanwhile, the outcome of the standoff in California is still uncertain, but one thing’s for sure: the intense debates will persist.