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Google to Stop Linking to California News Sites for Some Users

(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google will temporarily remove links to California news sites for an unspecified number of users in the state as it studies the impact of proposed legislation that would force the company to pay for serving up such content.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s vice president of global news partnerships, said in a blog post Friday that the company would conduct “a short-term test for a small percentage of California users” to explore how the proposed legislation would affect the company’s products. A Google spokesperson declined to specify how long the test would last, how many users would be affected and which news organizations would be included.

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The bill, known as the California Journalism Preservation Act, “would create a level of business uncertainty that no company could accept,” Zaidi said. “To avoid an outcome where all parties lose and the California news industry is left worse off, we urge lawmakers to take a different approach.”

Zaidi also said the company would halt planned investments in news in the state “until there’s clarity on California’s regulatory environment.”

Governments around the globe have taken steps aimed at compelling tech giants to pay for news. Last year, Alphabet said it would remove links to news from Canadian publishers on Google after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government passed a law requiring digital platforms to compensate local news outlets. Meta Platforms Inc., meanwhile, has opted to wind down its news feature in Canada, along with the US and Australia.

Buffy Wicks, the California assembly member behind the bill, said in a statement that she would remain in dialogue with Google.

“This is a bill about basic fairness — it’s about ensuring platforms pay for the content they repurpose,” she said. “We are committed to continuing negotiations with Google and all other stakeholders to secure a brighter future for California journalists and ensure that the lights of democracy stay on.”

--With assistance from Eliyahu Kamisher.

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