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Google stops showing California news as CA seeks to force tech to pay for news

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(The Center Square) – In response to a proposed California bill that would force social media and search engine companies to pay news organizations for their content, Google stopped showing local California news organizations in its search results to some California users.

Under the California Journalism Preservation Act, social media companies and search engines would be required to pay a share of their advertising revenue to news organizations based on how much organizations’ content shows up in social media feeds or search results. This payment would have no cap, leading Google to say “the uncapped financial exposure created by CJPA would be unworkable.”

AB 886 was passed by the California Assembly midway through 2023 and is currently sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee, without a publicly available assigned hearing date.

“Huge technology platforms like Google and Meta have coerced newsrooms to share the content they produce, which the platforms sell advertising against, while providing little to no compensation in return,” wrote bill author Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland.

In opposition, the Chamber of Progress argues that the legislation would likely result in lower news visibility and leave out local news organizations.

“This legislation sets a dangerous precedent of the government mandating the type of online information that platforms must pay for and also incentivizes platforms to not display or present hyperlinks to news sources,” wrote the Chamber in formal opposition. “We have seen this play out internationally. In Australia, platforms were only allowed to bypass the link tax by simply cutting payment deals with the large news companies directly, completely denying any support for local news organizations, as this bill intends to do.”

Google Vice President Jaffer Zaidi explained support for alternatives to the CJPA in a company news post announcing why Google would not be showing California news results for some California users.

“A healthy news industry in California will require support from both the California government and a broad base of private companies. This support should involve predictable, broad-based contributions, structured in ways that do not harm smaller, local publishers to benefit the largest players and hedge fund owners,” wrote Zaidi. “It must also maintain the principles of the open web, which is critical to ensuring news publishers can connect with people for free.”