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Heritage minister not worried Facebook will ban news over new bill – National


Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez is hitting back at Meta, which owns Facebook, after the company did not rule out banning Canadians from viewing and sharing news on the social network.

The Liberal government introduced a bill earlier this month that would force digital giants to compensate news outlets for reusing their work.

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Canada’s bill to support the news industry is modelled on a law in Australia, where Facebook introduced a temporary ban on viewing and sharing news on its site last year in protest of the draft legislation.

An executive from Meta Canada did not rule out a similar response here when pressed on the issue Tuesday at a parliamentary committee.

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Rodriguez said he did not expect that would be popular with Canadians.

“They made the same threat in Australia and at the end of the day they stayed,” Rodriguez told reporters Wednesday ahead of the Liberal caucus meeting.

“It wasn’t well-received by the Australian people and I don’t think it would be well received by the Canadian people.”

Meta Canada’s Rachel Curran was asked at the Commons public safety committee on Tuesday whether a ban was off the table.

“We are still looking at all of the options based on our evaluation of the legislation,” Curran replied.

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Curran had also told the committee the company was “not consulted” on the contents of the bill.

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Rodriguez said this was not true.

“They lied,” he told reporters in French.

“Facebook yesterday in committee said they had not been consulted, which is not true,” he added.

He said he had met Meta personally on Feb. 10 and that his staff spoke with the company regularly.

He said Meta had not seen the bill before it was tabled in the House of Commons, which is in line with parliamentary procedures, but the company was consulted along with other platforms.

“For us, it is a simple principle. The door is open. We are ready to discuss,” he said.

Meta was not immediately available to respond to Rodriguez’s comments on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Curran had told the committee the tech giant was unaware of the “scope” of the legislation until it was tabled and that it had “some pretty serious concerns.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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