• Tech - News - Tech Companies
  • Updated: February 24, 2023

Can Google Block Selected Users From Accessing News Content?

To a non-tech mind, it does not sound possible that some users can be blocked from accessing news content in any part of the world. But the question is: is it really possible?

As a tech enthusiast, one might argue from the angle that if a user's IP address can be masked out then that user is literally blocked. 

That is to say if an IP address suffices for this feature.

However, from the Google perspective, it appears very possible. 

This is because Google has recently launched tests that block access to news content for some users in Canada in response to the Canadian government’s online news bill.

Bill C-18, or the Online News Act, would require platforms like Facebook and Google to negotiate deals that would pay news publishers for their content.

The bill is currently before the Canadian Senate for debate.

These tests will, however, only impact “a small percentage” of Canadian users.

They will also limit the visibility of Canadian and international news and affect all types of news content.

“We’re briefly testing potential product responses to Bill C-18 that impact a very small percentage of Canadian users,” a spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch in an email.

"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 said on Twitter that Canadians won’t be intimidated by the tests and that tech giants need to be more transparent and accountable.

Last year, Facebook threatened to block the sharing of Canadian news content unless the government amended legislation that would force digital platforms to pay news publishers.

In 2021, Facebook briefly restricted users in Australia from sharing or viewing news links on the platform due to similar legislation.

Google is now borrowing from the Meta-owned company’s playbook.

The move from Google doesn’t mark the first time that the company has opposed Canadian legislation.

Last year, Google expressed concerns with Bill C-11, or the Online Streaming Act.

The bill would force platforms like Google-owned YouTube to feature Canadian content.

Google argued that the bill would negatively affect creators and viewers, and limit content discoverability.

The Canadian Senate recently passed the bill with dozens of amendments, and it will be reviewed by the House of Commons.

A few months ago, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai issued a statement noting that the online news and streaming bills discriminate against American businesses.

The U.S. government has also raised concerns about the trade implications of the bills.

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Eben Duru
Eben Duru

 My name is Eben and I am from Lagos, Nigeria. I am currently a writer at AllNews Nigeria. I’m...

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