Google blocks links to California news outlets to protest bill it doesn't like

Google blocks links to California news outlets to protest bill it doesn't like
Google's search engine is, for the moment, blocking links from local California news outlets. Google is doing this to protest the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA) which is getting closer to becoming law in the state. The CJPA would require Google and other "large online platforms" to pay a "journalism usage fee" to link to news sites in California. Only Google Search users in California are affected by the blocked links. 

The CJPA passed the California Assembly last year and still needs to get approved by the state Senate and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. A blog post written by Google's VP, Global News Partnerships, Jaffer Zaidi, wrote, "We have long said that this is the wrong approach to supporting journalism. If passed, CJPA may result in significant changes to the services we can offer Californians and the traffic we can provide to California publishers."

Zaidi explains in his post how Google helps publishers both big and small by helping them grow their audience at no cost to them. CJPA, according to Zaidi, would lead media conglomerates and Hedge Funds to use funds from CJPA to buy up local California newspapers, fire journalists, and create papers "that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content. CJPA would also put small publishers at a disadvantage and limit consumers' access to a diverse local media ecosystem."

Google says that through the Google News Initiative, it has partnered with 7,000 news publishers around the world which includes 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in the state of California. And the way people get informed these days is a lot different than how they got their news 20 years ago. People are turning to social media sites, short-form videos, and podcasts, or they are avoiding the news completely. Google says that only 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.

The plan that Google has is to speak with California publishers and lawmakers and make a proposal that would replace the CJPA. Zaidi says, "A healthy news industry in California will require support from both the California government and a broad base of private companies. This support should involve predictable, broad-based contributions, structured in ways that do not harm smaller, local publishers to benefit the largest players and hedge fund owners. It must also maintain the principles of the open web, which is critical to ensuring news publishers can connect with people for free."
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