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Liberal motion seeking files from Meta, Google 'undemocratic': chamber of commerce

Last Updated Mar 20, 2023 at 11:14 am MDT

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 file photo, a woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai. France's anti-competition watchdog has decided to fine Google 220 million euros ($268 million) for abusing its “dominant position” in the complex business of online advertising. It said Monday, June 7, 2021 that the move is unprecedented. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

OTTAWA — The head of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says a Liberal committee motion seeking internal documents from Google and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is “undemocratic.”

CEO Perrin Beatty says in a letter to the House of Commons heritage committee that the proposed motion poses a serious threat to the privacy of Canadians, especially those who oppose the government’s Online News Act. 

The legislation, also known as Bill C-18, would require tech giants to pay Canadian media companies for linking to or otherwise repurposing their content online. 

Liberal MPs on the committee want to see internal texts, messages and emails from the American companies, dating back three years, as relates to their decision-making on restricting the sharing of news.

The motion comes after Meta announced it will block news on its social media platforms if the Online News Act passes in its current form, and after Google completed a five-week test that blocked news links for some of its Canadian users. 

Beatty says the motion sets the stage for a major fishing operation that could affect the rights of the American companies and their Canadian employees.

“Every individual and every organization in Canada has the right to decide whether it supports Bill C-18 or any other piece of legislation that comes before Parliament. They should be free to do so without fear of retribution for their views,” Beatty said in the letter, dated March 19.

“For the committee to take any other approach would not only be undemocratic — it would also be unconscionable.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023. 

Meta funds a limited number of fellowships that support emerging journalists at The Canadian Press.

The Canadian Press