Meta's decision to walk away from engagement 'disappointing': Trudeau
Talks with Google are still ongoing to allow Canadians to access content that is consistent with rigorous journalism and ensure that Canada's democracy remains protected.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that Meta's decision to walk away from constructive talks with the Canadian government is "disappointing," but Ottawa is still prepared to negotiate ways to ensure Canadians can continue "to function online in free and open ways."
"Their decision to walk away rather than engage constructively is disappointing but we are very much there to continue, and to have conversations with them about how to make sure we're both supporting journalists and ensuring that Canadians can continue to function online in free and open ways," Trudeau said during a press conference.
Trudeau added that Meta's refusal to take accountability towards democracy was "extremely disappointing," noting that Meta's plan to temporarily block news content for some Canadians in response to C-18 "is a real problem."
"The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians' access to local news than pay their fair share is a real problem," says PM Trudeau of Meta's plan to temporarily block news content for some Canadians in response to C-18, the govt's Online News Act.#cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/ZLon8n4FhS— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) June 7, 2023
He added that talks with Google are still ongoing to allow Canadians to access content that is consistent with rigorous journalism and ensure that Canada's democracy remains protected.
The matter is of concern as it pertains to the recent passing of a bill titled Bill C-18 - the Online News Act - which requires platforms like Meta and Google to pay news organizations for their content and to negotiate commercial deals.
Both Meta and Google have rejected the legislation, noting that they threatened to end access to news content for Canadian users of Facebook and Instagram earlier this month in response to the introduction of the legislation.
Canada's not alone, as the US state of California also faces the same threat by Meta, which warned that it will eliminate news links from its platforms in California if state legislators proceed with a bill that seeks to impose a tax on news content, according to a report by Axios.
A Meta spokesperson told Reuters, "A legislative framework that compels us to pay for links or content that we do not post, and which are not the reason the vast majority of people use our platforms, is neither sustainable nor workable."
On the other hand, Google saw the bill as "unworkable" and stated that it was attempting other ways to work with the government to find a "path forward".
The federal government justified the online news bill as a way "to enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news market" and to give struggling news organizations "secure fair compensation" for content on the platforms.