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Gov. Newsom Silent as ‘Link Tax’ Bill Advances in California Legislature

Fellow Democrats have introduced a bill known as the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA) that proposes a “link tax” requiring major tech companies such as Google to compensate media outlets for linking to their content. 

Newsom’s office has not made any comments regarding this bill yet. 

Democratic Assemblymember Buffy Wicks is championing the CJPA, which is currently making its way through the state legislature. 

While the proposed bill aims to charge tech giants for linking to news websites, with the collected fees intended to support struggling newsrooms, Google has taken action in response, initiating the removal of news links while the legislation is being considered.

Google has collaborated with Newsom on various initiatives, including incorporating earthquake early warning technology into Android phones and providing Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots to households in rural areas. 

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Credit: Detroit, Michigan, USA – May 30, 2022: Google sign at the entrance of office building in Detroit, Michigan. Google LLC is world famous Information technology, e-commerce and advertising company. — Illustration by snehitdesign

However, the company has voiced strong opposition to the CJPA, stating that the bill would disrupt its efforts to assist publishing sites in expanding their audiences without facing financial penalties. 

Google emphasized the potential business uncertainty created by the proposed legislation and announced a soft roll-out of removing links to California news websites to assess the impact on its product experience.

Under the CJPA, a panel of three judges would determine the amount companies would need to pay for linking to news content through an arbitration process. 

Proponents of the bill argue that it aims to address the decline in journalism jobs, with thousands of newspapers closing in the U.S. since 2005 and over 100 news organizations shutting down in California in the past decade. 

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Credits: DepositPhotos

Wicks underscored the importance of fairness in compensating platforms for repurposing content and expressed a commitment to negotiations with stakeholders to ensure a brighter future for California journalists. 

Google calls for lawmakers to consider alternative approaches to support the news industry without negative repercussions and contends that the bill undermines news in the state. 

The proposed “link tax” legislation adds to the ongoing scrutiny faced by big tech companies, with state officials and Republican lawmakers raising concerns about their influence on political discourse, particularly in the lead-up to the 2024 election.

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