Google invites its senior executives to appear in parliamentary committee

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Jeff Chiu Associated Press The Silicon Valley giant conducted a five-week test that blocked links to news for some of its Canadian users.

Google says it will offer some of its top executives to testify before a parliamentary committee.

In a statement, the company said it intends to work constructively with the heritage committee studying Google’s actions after the Silicon Valley giant conducted a five-week test that blocked news links for some of its Canadian users. The test ended on Thursday.

According to the company, the test was aimed at assessing the effects of a potential response to Bill C-18, the Liberal government’s controversial law regarding online communication platforms.

A spokesperson said Google would make its president of global affairs and chief legal officer, Kent Walker, and vice president of news, Richard Gingras, available to meet with the committee. A date has not yet been set.

Both rejected a committee convening earlier this month.

“We always seek to work constructively with Canadian parliamentarians and the Government of Canada on regulatory issues,” a spokesperson said. from Google in a press release.

The head of Google Canada appeared in their place, but Google acknowledges that committee members continue to have questions they want answered.

< p>Liberal MPs recently expressed their dissatisfaction with Google and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.

On February 9, Google began its five-week test that limited access to news to less than 4% of its Canadian users. Affected users were unable to access news links on Google’s search engine and Discover platform on Android phones.

The company said the test applied to news of all kinds, including content created by Canadian broadcasters and newspapers.

Meta also announced last week that it would block news on Facebook and Instagram if the government’s proposed Online News Act were passed in its current form.

Tech giants such as Meta and Google have long fought elements of the proposed law, which would require them to negotiate deals to compensate Canadian media companies for linking to their online content or for any other form of reuse of this content. Google said it preferred to contribute to a media fund.

Major Canadian media groups and the federal Liberal government backed the bill, saying it would level the playing field game for news outlets competing with tech companies for advertising dollars.

On Monday, three days before US President Joe Biden’s visit to Ottawa, Liberal heritage committee MPs plan to request internal documents from the two US companies, while inviting their executives to appear.

The CEO of the Canadian American Business Council, Maryscott Greenwood, believes that Parliament is going too far with its request for internal documents.

“The precedent that’s being set, if it happens, is quite troubling,” Ms. Greenwood said Saturday from Washington D.C.

Liberal members of the committee also want to submit to a new study “into the current and ongoing use by tech giants of intimidation and subversion tactics to evade regulation in Canada and around the world”.

Chris Bittle, Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, shared the motion proposed by the Liberals on Twitter.

“The actions of the tech giants have real consequences for our society and our democracy. Their recent bullying tactics go a bit too far, Bittle said. Tech giants are not above the law.

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