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Google Shutting Down Some California Access To News Sites As A Test Of Proposed Legislation’s Effects


On Friday, Google began removing California news websites from some people’s search results. The move comes as a test of what would happen should the state Legislature pass a new law requiring the search engine to pay media companies for linking to their content.

Google said in a blog post that it is using a “short-term test for a small percentage of users … to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

The company said it also would pause new investments in the California news industry, including its partnership initiative with news organizations and its product licensing program.

“By helping people find news stories, we help publishers of all sizes grow their audiences at no cost to them. (This bill) would up-end that model,” Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s vice president for global news partnerships, wrote in the blog post.

The bill in question would require tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft to pay a certain percentage of advertising revenue to media companies for linking to their content. A panel of three judges would determine that fee through an arbitration process.

California has lost more than 100 news organizations in the past decade, according to Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, the bill’s author. She hopes is passage will stop the attrition in journalism.

“We are committed to continuing negotiations with Google and all other stakeholders to secure a brighter future for California journalists and ensure that the lights of democracy stay on.”

The state Assembly passed the bill last year with bipartisan support despite fierce opposition and lobbying efforts from big tech companies. The California Senate would have to pass it later this year for it to become law.



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