Google blocks news sites in California after bill would make tech giant pay for news links

"If passed, CJPA may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians"


On Friday, Google announced that it began blocking links to California news websites for some California users in preparation for the passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA) which would force the search engine to pay for links to news articles. 

In a statement, Google VP of Global News Partnerships Jaffer Zaidi said, "If passed, CJPA may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers." 

He noted the bill would essentially create a "link tax" and "would require Google to pay for simply connecting Californians to news articles." Zaidi said the CJPA would be "unworkable" for the company and that no company could accept it in its current form. 

"By helping people find news stories, we help publishers of all sizes grow their audiences at no cost to them," Zaidi added. "CJPA would up-end that model. It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content." 

On top of testing the process of removing news links for some California residents, Google also paused "further investments in the California news ecosystem, including new partnerships through Google News Showcase, our product and licensing program for news organizations, and planned expansions of the Google News Initiative." 

According to NPR, the bill aims to provide aid to California news outlets that have been downsizing in recent years. The law would also affect social media companies such as Facebook, which started blocking news links in Canada after a similar law was passed. Meta vowed last year to take the same approach with California if the CJPA passed in the state. 

At the time, Meta spokesman Andy Stone said, "If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram, rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers." 

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