(Ottawa) Some MPs want Google to explain its decision to temporarily block access to information for some of its Canadian users.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage meets on Tuesday and its members are expected to discuss whether to call Google executives to testify.
Last week, Google confirmed to The Canadian Press that it was going to limit access to news on its search engine to less than 4% of its Canadian users. The tech giant said it was a short-lived test in response to the Liberal government’s proposed online news bill, which it opposes.
The bill would force digital giants such as Google and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to negotiate deals to compensate Canadian media companies for displaying or providing links to their news content.
Committee members from the Liberal Party (PLC), New Democratic Party (NDP) and Bloc Québécois (BQ), who called Tuesday’s meeting, say Google is trying to intimidate the parliamentary process in Canada by threatening to censor news on its platform. “Bullying like this has become commonplace as tech giants everywhere push the boundaries of their accountability,” the six MPs wrote in a letter to Committee Chair, Liberal MP Hedy Fry.
Major traditional media companies have meanwhile praised the online news bill, saying it will create a level playing field with Google and Facebook, who are competing with them for the advertising market. .
Tech companies and conservatives have pushed back against the bill, arguing it offers the wrong approach to improving journalism. Google said it would rather pay Canadian media through a fund than be regulated by the government.