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Google Blocks California News Media Sites Threatens To Block Traffic As Fight Over Online Journalism Bill Escalates

Google Blocks California News Media Sites Threatens To Block Traffic As Fight Over Online Journalism Bill Escalates

In a bold move that echoes its actions in other global markets, Google has begun blocking access to select California news outlets.

This drastic step comes as tensions mount over the proposed California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill that would require tech platforms to compensate news publishers for their content.

The bill, which has already passed the California Assembly, is now facing scrutiny in the state Senate. If enacted, it could significantly alter the digital landscape by imposing what Google terms a “link tax” on platforms that aggregate news content.

Google’s Vice President for Global News Partnerships, Jaffer Zaidi, expressed the company’s stance in a blog post: “We have long said that this is the wrong approach to supporting journalism,” warning of “significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers” if the bill passes.

The CJPA aims to address the financial imbalance between tech giants and newsrooms, as platforms like Google and Meta have siphoned off a substantial share of digital advertising revenue, leaving publishers in the lurch.

Proponents of the bill argue that it’s only fair for publishers to receive compensation for the content that users access for free on these platforms.

Google’s response has been to initiate a “short-term test” by removing links to news websites potentially covered by the CJPA for a small percentage of California users. This move is intended to gauge the impact of the legislation on Google’s product experience.

The tech giant has a history of pushing back against similar legislation in other countries, including Australia and Canada. In those instances, Google threatened to turn off services entirely but ultimately complied with the laws without major disruptions.

Meta, on the other hand, has taken a different route by removing news content from its feeds in Canada and threatening to do the same in the U.S. if similar legislation is advanced.

The debate over the CJPA is not just about the future of journalism but also about the power dynamics between the media industry and tech behemoths.

As the bill progresses through the legislative process, all eyes are on California, a state known for its tech innovation, to see how this battle will unfold.

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, who has been instrumental in moving the bill forward, has yet to comment on the latest developments.

Meanwhile, Governor Gavin Newsom’s position remains unclear as the state Senate deliberates the fate of the CJPA.