Google Blocks News For Some In Fight Against California Bill

Google has started blocking links to news sites for some California users in response to a state bill that would require media giants to pay publishers for linking to their content.  

The action in response to the California Journalism Protection Act (CJPA) now being considered has drawn quick condemnation from Danielle Coffey, CEO of the New/Media Alliance. 

“Google’s move to withhold access to critical content is antithetical to their advocacy around open access and their mission to help people ‘find the information they are looking for,’” Coffey says. “This is incredibly disappointing and undemocratic.” 

However, Google is defending its stance. “To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users,” writes Jaffer Zaidi, vice president, global news partnerships for Google, in a post. “The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.” 



Zaidi adds, “Until there’s clarity on California’s regulatory environment, we’re also pausing 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. "

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), argues that the legislation is designed “to support our free press and the democracy sustained by it, to make sure publications get paid what they are owed, and to hold our nation’s largest and wealthiest tech companies accountable for repurposing content that’s not theirs.”

And, Coffey argues that Google’s action “demonstrates the real problem, one company has too much power, which the California Journalism Preservation Act, solves in part so that journalists can get paid.”

It is not clear if Google is bluffing. Last year, the company agreed to pay Canadian publishers $100 million per year for use of its news content on the Google search platform.  

In contrast, Meta simply start blocking news content in Canada when Canada passed its own journalism bill.  

Meta also threatens to remove news links in Illinois if a similar bill is passed there. 

“If faced with legislation that requires us to pay for news content that publishers voluntarily post on our platforms and is not the reason most people come to Facebook and Instagram, we will be forced to make the same business decision that we made in Canada to end the availability of news in Illinois,” Meta spokesperson Jamie Radice said, according to

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