Facebook Warns It Could Block News in Canada Over Proposed Legislation

The Verge says Facebook “might ban news sharing in Canada if the country passes legislation forcing the company to pay news outlets for their content.” They cite a post Friday from Facebook’s parent company Meta, and a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.

If this type of law sounds familiar, it’s because Australia introduced a similar one last year, called the News Media Bargaining Code, which also requires Facebook and Google to pay for news included on the platforms. Although Australia eventually passed the law, it wasn’t without significant pushback from Facebook and Google. Facebook switched off news sharing in the country in response, and Google threatened to pull its search engine from the country.

While Google later walked back on its plans after striking deals with media organizations, Facebook reversed its news ban only after Australia amended its legislation. Facebook’s temporary ban not only affected news outlets but also ripped down posts from government agencies, like local fire and health departments. Earlier this year, a group of Facebook whistleblowers claimed the move was a negotiation tactic, alleging Facebook used an overly broad definition of what’s considered a news publisher to cause chaos in the country. The company maintains the disorder was “inadvertent.”

Now Facebook’s prepared to put a block on news in Canada if the country doesn’t change its legislation….
“If this draft legislation becomes law, creating globally unprecedented forms of financial liability for news links or content, we may be forced to consider whether we continue to allow the sharing of news content on Facebook in Canada as defined under the Online News Act,” Meta states.

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Canada Considers Law Requiring Online Giants To Compensate News Outlets

The federal Liberal government introduced legislation Tuesday to force digital giants to compensate news publishers for the use of their content. CBC News reports: The new regulatory regime would require companies like Google and the Meta Platforms-owned Facebook — and other major online platforms that reproduce or facilitate access to news content — to either pay up or go through a binding arbitration process led by an arms-length regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The compensation extracted from these digital giants must be used, in large part, to fund the creation of news content to protect the “sustainability of the Canadian news ecosystem,” according to a government backgrounder distributed to reporters. The government is pitching the arrangement as a way to prop up an industry that has seen a steady decline since the emergence of the internet.

To preserve access to Canadian news, the federal government has adopted much of the so-called “Australian model,” named after the country that first forced digital companies to pay for the use of news content. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, more than $190 million has been paid already to Australian media companies since the model was enacted last year. The big winners have been legacy media and larger media outlets.

The new Canadian scheme would require that Facebook, Google and other digital platforms that have “a bargaining imbalance with news businesses” make “fair commercial deals” with newspapers, news magazines, online news businesses, private and public broadcasters and certain non-Canadian news media that meet specific criteria. The goal is to have these digital platforms negotiate deals with publishers without the need for government intervention. [T]he amount of money each news business gets from these digital giants will be decided by those negotiations — there’s no preset formula. In the absence of some sort of voluntary arrangement, news businesses can initiate a mandatory bargaining process and go to a CRTC arbitration panel for a binding decision.

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Calgarians Detail Life With an Electricity Load Limiter

Limiters cap amount of electricity households can use, making many appliances unusable. From a report: Josie Gagne was stumbling in the dark, sobbing while on the phone with an Enmax customer assistant, as she tried to locate the tiny orange button under the utility meter that would restore heat inside. It was the shock that got her. The young single mother with two kids under two returned home one winter day last year to find a note on her door from Enmax. She’d fallen behind on bills; the home was now on a limiter, capping her electricity. The furnace was off and at that point, she had no idea what a limiter even was. “I’m freaking out. I’m crying, thinking ‘What am I going to do?'” she said. “It’s the middle of winter, it’s still cold outside. How am I going to feed my children when my oven doesn’t work?”

Rising utility bills have community advocates worried the number of Calgarians facing this scenario will increase, and many don’t know what a load limiter is. It’s often the first step before disconnection. Several Calgary residents flagged the issue while sharing their utility bill experiences with CBC Calgary through text messaging, and on Calgary Kindness, a mutual aid Facebook group. They’ve shared their personal stories with CBC journalists so others know what to expect. Contributors said they were scared their fridge would lose power and their groceries would rot. They relied on air fryers, barbecues or a hot plate to make it through. The extra fees — $52 for the notice, $52 to remove the limiter — only made it worse. Plus, the black mark on their files means they often can’t get a contract with more favourable fixed rates. When the device is installed, a stove or anything else requiring 240 volts of electricity won’t work.

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