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Google Blocks News in California to Protest Proposed Media Payoff Law

Google has begun restricting access to news articles for some users in California in response to the pending California Journalism Preservation Act, which would require tech giants like Google and Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta to pay publishers for news content.


NPR reports that in a show of its immense power and influence, Google announced on Friday that it has started blocking news articles from California-based news organizations for an unspecified number of state residents who use the search engine. This move comes as Google attempts to fight back against the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a proposed state law that the tech behemoth has been battling for years.


The CJPA, sponsored by Democratic Assembly member Buffy Wicks, aims to provide support to California’s struggling news industry. Over the past decade, at least 100 news organizations in the state have closed their doors, and nationwide, more than 20,000 media jobs were cut in 2022 alone. Advocates of the bill argue that it would ensure basic fairness by requiring platforms like Google and Meta, which have amassed huge profits from digital advertising, to pay for the news content they utilize. It bears some semblance to the national JCPA, a media cartel bill that democrats and establishment Republicans keep resurrecting from the dead in a relentless quest to control independent media.


However, Google has been staunchly resisting the bill, claiming that being subject to what it calls “a link tax” for connecting California residents with news articles is “unworkable.” In a blog post, Google executive Jaffer Zaidi stated that the CJPA “may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers.”


This is not the first time Google and Meta have employed hardball tactics in response to efforts requiring them to financially support the ailing news industry. In Canada and Australia, both companies threatened to pull news links or block news stories entirely after the passage of similar legislation. While deals were eventually struck in those countries, Meta continues to block news articles on Instagram and Facebook in Canada.


Read more at NPR here.

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