Google is currently testing the removal of links to California news sites for some users in the western US state as a response to the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA). This act aims to create a “link tax” for connecting users to news articles, which Google believes would create undue financial burden and business uncertainty. The CJPA was passed by the California Assembly in June of last year and is currently under consideration by the state’s senate.

Global Pushback Against Similar Legislation

Google and Facebook-owner Meta have faced similar challenges in other jurisdictions where legislation has been proposed to require tech companies to compensate news outlets for content shared on their platforms. In Australia, Facebook briefly blocked news articles on its site in response to a similar law, before ultimately reaching agreements with news publishers. Similarly, in France and Canada, agreements were reached between Google and media companies to provide compensation for lost advertising revenues. These developments highlight the global pushback against such legislation.

Google’s Trial and Future Plans

Google’s response to the potential impact of the CJPA includes a trial to measure the effects of removing links to news websites that could be covered by the proposed law. The company has also announced a halt in investments in the California news “ecosystem” until there is more clarity on the regulatory front. According to Google Global News Partnerships vice president Jaffer Zaidi, only a small percentage of Google search queries are news-related, as more users are turning to alternative sources such as short-form videos, newsletters, podcasts, and social media for news consumption.

The proposed California Journalism Preservation Act poses significant challenges for Google and other tech companies operating in the state. The potential “link tax” and uncertainty surrounding the legislation have led Google to take proactive measures, including testing the removal of links to news sites and pausing investments in the local news industry. The outcomes of these developments will have far-reaching implications for the future of news content distribution online.


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