The Canadian equivalent of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), a bill forcing tech companies to pay off and collude with big media companies, has passed in Canada. As a result, Facebook (now known as Meta) says news content will no longer be available on its main platform and Instagram in the country — and Google is considering a similar approach on its platforms.
The bill, C-18, received royal assent this week after being passed by the Canadian Parliament, still under the control of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party.
Much like the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) in the U.S., a repeatedly failed bill that Senate Democrats are once again trying to revive, the primary goal of C-18 is to force tech companies to prop up the overwhelmingly left-leaning legacy media.
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, speaks at the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s (CFA) 2023 Annual General Meeting in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, March 6, 2023. (David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Mark Zuckerberg’s martial arts tourney (Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook)
Just like the JCPA, C-18 allows media companies in Canada to enter into negotiations with tech companies to pay them for “carrying” their content, i.e., linking to the content and providing the media companies with traffic.
If no voluntary agreement is reached between the media and the tech company, an agreement can be forced on tech companies through arbitration, by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Also like the JCPA, the Canadian bill contains a massive loophole allowing for the exclusion of independent and conservative media.
From the text of the bill:
Eligible news businesses — designation
27 (1) At the request of a news business, the Commission must, by order, designate the business as eligible if it
(iv) is either a member of a recognized journalistic association and follows the code of ethics of a recognized journalistic association or has its own code of ethics whose standards of professional conduct require adherence to the recognized processes and principles of the journalism profession, including fairness, independence and rigour in reporting news and handling sources; or
In other words, if the CRTC determines that a news business does not adhered to “recognized processes and principles of the journalism profession,” or is not “fair,” “independent,” or “rigorous,” it can block a news outlet from receiving any of the benefits of C-18.
In response to the bill’s passage, Facebook said it is moving to restrict the distribution of all news content in Canada. The company did the same thing in Australia in 2021 after the passage of a similar law, but eventually came to an agreement with media companies.
According to CBC, Facebook is currently carrying testing the process of cutting of news content on a small number of Canadian users.
“We have repeatedly shared that in order to comply with Bill C-18 … content from news outlets, including news publishers and broadcasters, will no longer be available to people accessing our platforms in Canada,” Zuckerberg’s company said in a statement.
Google said it was considering similar measures.
“Every step of the way, we’ve proposed thoughtful and pragmatic solutions that would have improved the bill and cleared the path for us to increase our already significant investments in the Canadian news ecosystem,” Google said.
“So far, none of our concerns have been addressed. Bill C-18 is about to become law and remains unworkable.”
Zuckerberg’s apparent determination to stop carrying news content for Canadians drew the fire of the country’s leftist prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
“The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians’ access to local news than pay their fair share is a real problem, and now they’re resorting to bullying tactics to try and get their way. It’s not going to work,” said the PM.