July 2, 2022 Camila

A link tax is a proposed rule that would require Google and other tech companies to pay publishers every time they link to their content. The Canadian government is currently considering the proposal. If it is enacted, it will force Google and other companies to compensate publishers that don’t meet basic journalistic standards.

The broad definition for eligible news businesses could also include publishers that don’t employ two or more journalists in Canada. Google has equated the money it may have to pay Canadian news organizations with a government-imposed tax. However, the “tax” wouldn’t be paid to the government; it would be paid to publishers. Every time a searcher clicks on a link to content published by an eligible news organization, Google would have to pay a fee. The purpose of the fee is to compensate news organizations for the revenue they lose when Google and other tech companies link to their content. Currently, news organizations pay no compensation when Google and other companies link to their content. If the proposed rule is enacted, it would level the playing field between tech companies and news organizations and help support journalism in Canada.

Google has come out swinging against the law proposed by the Canadian government that would force the search engine to pay publishers for listing content. The company has lodged criticism against the act, claiming it imposes a “link tax” that could be detrimental to search results. 

Canada’s proposed Online News Act would compel tech companies to negotiate deals with news organizations for content on their platforms, modeled after legislation introduced in Australia last year. Google is concerned that this could lead to a patchwork of inconsistent laws that would be difficult to comply with. The company has urged the Canadian government to reconsider the bill, warning that it could have unintended consequences for the open internet.

The proposal doesn’t define what qualifies as a “news organization.” This could result in “undeserving” publishers being rewarded. Google’s ability to rank search results for news items would be limited under the Online News Act. This could have a significant impact on how people consume news online.