Google-backed survey criticizing Online News Act gets slammed by Ottawa

A recent public opinion survey conducted by Abacus Data, and commissioned by Google Canada, on Bill C-18, the Online News Act, has been slammed by policymakers in Ottawa for its efforts to undermine the legislative process and avoid accountability.

Late last week, the Toronto Star reported on the response received from officials in Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s office after reviewing the survey’s findings.

“The Online News Act protects local news. It is not a link tax: Canadians are not paying for anything, and no money goes to the government. The Online News Act does not require Google Search to remove or restrict search results. It outlines an objective set of criteria, removed from political decision-making, to determine eligible news organizations,” said spokesperson Laura Scaffidi.

“We continue to have constructive conversations with Google, as recently as last week, yet they continue to pull from their playbook and continue to try to avoid accountability, here and abroad.”

News Media Canada president and CEO Paul Deegan said that while Google’s survey puts more “attention” on the situation facing journalism in Canada, the web giant must still provide “an honest presentation of the facts.”

Google is scheduled to appear before the Commons’ heritage committee this week. The company will submit a written document that contains proposed amendments to the bill.