Canada is preparing a new bill that, if signed into law, would require Google to pay publishers for using information from their content. In response, Google is testing a complete block of news content in Search in Canada with a subset of users.

The “Online News Act” or Bill C-18 is a bill in Canada that would require tech giants such as Google to make deals with news organizations in the country when their products (in this case, Search) use content from journalists.

Google confirmed to multiple publications, including CBA and TechCrunch, today that it is performing a test for a “small percentage” of users – 4%, specifically – that blocks all news content in Search. The test will run for five weeks and includes content created by Canadian broadcasters and newspapers. In a statement, a Google spokesperson said:

We’re briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a very small percentage of Canadian users. We run thousands of tests each year to assess any potential changes to Search. We’ve been fully transparent about our concern that C-18 is overly broad and, if unchanged, could impact products Canadians use and rely on every day. We remain committed to supporting a sustainable future for news in Canada and offering solutions that fix Bill C-18.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez responded to Google’s actions in a Twitter thread.

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Ben Schoon

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