Canadians say ‘Big Tech’ should pay to share Canadian news

VANCOUVER – An escalating tug of war between the Liberal government and “Big Tech” – with Canadian news content in the middle – is heating up an already hot summer in Canada.

Data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians aligned in principle with the concept of going after so-called “Big Tech” to “pay their fair share,” something touted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in recent weeks. But many are concerned about the consequences of the Liberal government’s proposed solution, the Online News Act, which seeks to force Meta (Facebook), Alphabet (Google), and others, to spend millions to access and share Canadian content.

Three-in-five Canadians (61%) say Big Tech should compensate Canadian organizations when their content is shared, given that those platforms benefit from vast advertising dollars that may have gone to the original creators, but are increasingly concentrated in the hands of tech companies.

That said, more than three-in-five (63%) are also concerned about losing access to Canadian news on Facebook and Google.

This in turn has half (48%) of Canadians directing the federal government to “back down” in its battle with Big Tech, while one-quarter say Ottawa should stand firm (26%) and the same number (25%) are unsure of the best path forward.

For Canadians, the loss of Google and Facebook as news vehicles would be considerable. Each is used by more than two-in-five Canadians daily for news, a proportion higher than all other platforms and websites.

Only about 15 per cent of Canadians say they currently pay for an online news subscription to a Canadian site.