Government backs down on document demand from Google, Facebook

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Facing criticism from Canadian business, political and legal leaders that it is trying to invade the privacy of companies, the Liberal government on proposed government legislation ordering Google and Facebook to produce records of communications with third parties has withdrawn from its efforts to give.

At a meeting today, the House of Commons heritage committee agreed a generous motion asking only the two tech giants to produce internal – not external – communications involving opposition to the legislation.

The uproar began last week when Liberal MP Anthony Housefather, who is parliamentary secretary to Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, proposed a bill for Google and Facebook to turn over two years of internal and external communications with other companies or individuals. .

The motion relates to the committee’s work looking at the “present and ongoing use of intimidation and sabotage tactics to avoid regulation in Canada” related to industry opposition. Bill C-18. That law aims to help some Canadian news organizations by forcing major digital platforms to negotiate and compensate news content providers for linking to their sites.

Part of the heritage committee’s anger is that Google, which opposes the proposed legislation as a “link tax”, is testing how it can restrict the display of Canadian news results on searches as a way of protest.

This led HouseFather to introduce a proposal to the government that required the company to produce internal and external documentation relating to the actions it would take with respect to any Canadian regulation as of January 1, 2020.

The public reaction was heated by some. in a blog University of Ottawa Professor of Internet Law Michael Geist said the proposal is “a stunning disregard for privacy and one that could have a dangerous chilling effect on public participation.”

Then The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the Heritage Committee expressing “deep concern”. The demand “is a serious threat to the privacy of Canadians and their rights to hold and express opinions on public issues. In addition, its adoption would encourage thousands of associations, chambers of commerce, unions, social action groups, non-profits and Legitimate work of private enterprises will be frozen.

This morning, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the committee, HouseFather proposed to remove the word “external” from its proposal, so that companies would only have to submit internal communications regarding Canadian regulations.

Related content: Meeting delayed

RELATED CONTENT: Google reprimanded and sworn in after repeatedly deflecting questions over news blocking

Google says Kent Walker, president of global affairs and chief legal officer, and Richard Gingras, vice president of news, will meet with the committee. The date has not been set yet.

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