Canada May Join Australia In Making Social Media Companies Pay For News (Free Preview)

Canada May Join Australia In Making Social Media Companies Pay For News (Free Preview)
Photo by Praveen Kumar Nandagiri on Unsplash


Canada is following in Australia’s footsteps in considering legislation requiring social media platforms to pay Canadian media for use of their content.


The Parliament has before it a government bill, the “Online News Act” (Bill C-18), that would mandate negotiations on the fees companies like Facebook and Google must pay Canada’s national and local media for use of or linking to their content. This bill is in the same vein as Australia’s “Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2021” which “establishes a mandatory code of conduct to help support the sustainability of the Australian news media sector by addressing bargaining power imbalances between digital platforms and Australian news businesses” per the first explanatory memorandum on the bill. C-18 would herd social media platforms toward good faith negotiations with traditional Canadian media (but not specialty or industry outlets) upon pain of a government-run, binding arbitration system to set compensation. Ottawa would have a number of means to force multinational social media companies to strike deals with news-oriented media, and these companies do not like the bill just as they disliked Australia’s bill.


The “Online News Act” (Bill C-18) purports “to regulate digital news intermediaries with a view to enhancing fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace and contributing to its sustainability, including the sustainability of independent local news businesses.” The essence of C-18 is that social media giants must pay traditional Canadian media companies for the use or their content.

What is left unsaid is the reason why media in Canada need help. Throughout the late 20th Century and early 21st Century, traditional media (i.e. newspapers and television) in the United States (U.S.) and elsewhere thrived on advertising revenue until the internet took off. Google and Facebook eventually achieved dominance and reaped the lion’s share of online advertising revenue. One analysisshowed revenue for media in the U.S. hitting a high of $49.435 billion in 2005 and falling to $12.864 billion in 2019. And, as advertising revenue has dried up, media companies have been laying off staff and cutting coverage. It has long been a touchstone that democracies depend on a free, active, and vigorous media to hold power to account, but if media that engages in investigation is receding, democracy might be at stake. Hence, legislation of this sort in a number of western democracies.

This decline in media advertising revenue dovetails with the rise in online advertising revenue for Facebook and Google, the two biggest current players in that sector. In 2018, online advertising took in $107.5 billion with Google and Facebook estimated to reap nearly 60% of the proceeds, The 2021 online advertising numbers were even higher. And so, the upward trend in online advertising has come largely at the expense of traditional media.

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s recently expanded “Investigation of Competition in the Digital Marketplace: Committee Report and Recommendations”summarized the issue:

Since 2006, newspaper advertising revenue, which is critical for funding high-quality journalism, fell by over 50 percent. Despite significant growth in online traffic among the nation’s leading newspapers, print and digital newsrooms across the country are laying off reporters or folding altogether. As a result, communities throughout the United States are increasingly going without sources for local news. The emergence of platform gatekeepers— and the market power wielded by these firms—has contributed to the decline of trustworthy sources of news.

Under C-18, companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter would definitely be covered with others possibly being regulated as well like TikTok, Instagram, and a handful of others. A number of the these entities would qualify as “digital news intermediaries” subject to Canadian regulation. This term is defined in C-18 as:

an online communications platform, including a search engine or social media service, that is subject to the legislative authority of Parliament and that makes news content produced by news outlets available to persons in Canada.

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Other Developments

The United States (U.S.) Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held an open meeting and voted to proceed with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that “seeks public comment on potential harms stemming from deceptive or unfair review and endorsement practices and whether a rule would help consumers and level the playing field for honest marketers;” the agency “is exploring a rule to crack down on junk fees proliferating throughout the economy;” and the FTC is “exploring possible steps to strengthen and modernize the Funeral Rule, which requires funeral providers to give in-person visitors price information to make informed decisions” and “released a staff report that found that fewer than 40 percent of the funeral provider websites the agency reviewed provide any prices online.”

Freight railroad giant, BNSF Railway, lost a trial brought in United States (U.S.) court under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) and the court rendered a $228 million against the company.

The European Commission “is proposing to strengthen the resilience of EU critical infrastructure” and the “draft Recommendation aims at maximising and accelerating the work to protect critical infrastructure in three priority areas: preparedness, response and international cooperation.”

The Republican National Committee sued Google in United States (U.S.) court, claiming the company is discriminating against their email by sending it to spam folders.

Australia’s Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced that the new government led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will “introduce legislation to significantly increase penalties for repeated or serious privacy breaches.”

Texas Attorney General Paxton sued Google, “alleging that the tech giant has unlawfully captured and used the biometric data of millions of Texans without properly obtaining their informed consent to do so.”

United States (U.S.) Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the “Securing Open Source Software Act” (S.4913) that “would direct CISA to develop a risk framework to evaluate how open source code is used by the federal government.”

United States (U.S.) Mark Warner (D-VA) “wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressing concern and requesting more information regarding Meta’s practice of collecting user’s health information through tracking applications.”

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) “commenced an investigation into the personal information handling practices of Singtel Optus Pty Ltd, Optus Mobile Pty Ltd and Optus Internet Pty Ltd (the Optus companies) in regard to the data breach made public by Optus on Thursday, 22 September 2022.”

The United States (U.S.) National Institute of Standards and Technology published “NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-220, 2021 Cybersecurity and Privacy Program Annual Report, “which details the NIST Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) Cybersecurity and Privacy Program’s responses to numerous challenges and opportunities in cybersecurity and privacy.”

France’s Commission Nationale Informatique & Libertés (CNIL) “imposed a penalty of 20 million euros and ordered CLEARVIEW AI to stop collecting and using data on individuals in France without a legal basis and to delete the data already collected.”

The United Kingdom’s (UK) National Cyber Security Centre CEO Lindy Cameron made remarks on the UK’s approach to securing the Internet of Things (IoT).

The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) published a new report that “explores the necessity to design new cryptographic protocols and integrate post-quantum systems into existing protocols.”

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Further Reading

RNC sues Google over spam filter, complains Gmail is “modern Western Union” By Jon Brodkin — Ars Technica

Apple’s App Review Fix Fails to Placate Developers” By Shubham Agarwal — WIRED

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not” By Mark Harris — MIT Technology Review

Google Shares Tumble After YouTube, Search Show Rare Weakness” By Miles Kruppa — Wall Street Journal

TikTok Parent ByteDance Planned To Use TikTok To Monitor The Physical Location Of Specific American Citizens” By Emily Baker-White — Forbes

TikTok denies it could be used to track US citizens” By Annabelle Liang — BBC

Australian companies to face fines of $50m for data breaches” By Amy Remeikis and Paul Karp — The Guardian

How Australia Fell Behind on Data Privacy” By Yan Zhuang — New York Times

CISA Seeks Feedback on Baseline Measures to Secure Cloud Configuration” By Mariam Baksh — Nextgov

US Eyes Expanding China Tech Ban to Quantum Computing and AI” By Anna Edgerton, Ian King, Eric Martin, and Saleha Mohsin — Bloomberg

New Zealand Uber drivers win case declaring them employees” By Rebecca Bellan — Tech Crunch

Netflix ends password-sharing fees that sparked backlash in Latin America” By Andrew Deck — Rest of the World

Some Democrats dip a toe in TikTok as most Republicans stay away” By David Ingram — NBC News

Why Am I Seeing That Political Ad? Check Your ‘Trump Resistance’ Score.” By Natasha Singer — New York Times

Square sells access to your inbox. No one seems to know if the law cares.” By Ben Brody — Axios

Are We Past Peak Newsletter?” By Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson — New York Times

India’s homegrown TikTok clones struggle to replicate Bytedance’s success” By Adnan Bhat — Rest of the World

Spotify Wants to Get Into Audiobooks but Says Apple Is in the Way” By Tripp Mickle — New York Times

‘Deepfakes’ of Celebrities Have Begun Appearing in Ads, With or Without Their Permission” By Patrick Coffee — Wall Street Journal

Coming Events

§ 26 October

o   The United States (U.S.) Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB) will hold a meeting.

§ 27 October

o   The United States (U.S.) Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board (ISPAB) will hold a meeting.

o   The United States (U.S.) Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold an open meeting with this agenda.

§ 1 November

o   The United States (U.S.) Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold PrivacyCon with this agenda.

§ 1 February 2023

o   The Colorado Attorney General will hold a rulemaking hearing on the draft regulations proposed to implement the “Colorado Privacy Act.”

Photo Credits

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