Briefing

Google apologizes to New Zealand Justice Minister Andrew Little, suspends trending feature

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Little said Google was “flipping the bird” to New Zealand after the search giant sent an email with the name of a man accused of murder—who a court had ordered could not be publicly named—to about 200 users signed up receive alerts from Google Trends. Earlier this week Google said it wouldn’t change its policy, but reversed course after Little accused the company of having “contempt for New Zealand law.” (New Zealand Herald)

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Talking point: New Zealand’s government has spent the past two years steadily—and largely successfully—challenging the biggest tech companies in the world. In February, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a two to three per cent digital services tax on companies like Facebook and Google. That’s in addition to the country’s “Amazon Tax,” which comes into effect in October and will add sales tax to goods purchased online valued at NZ$400 or less. And, Ardern got a number of significant global leaders to sign a global pledge against online extremism, including those from France, India and Canada, as well as tech giants Amazon, Facebook and Google. New Zealand’s approach stands in stark contrast with Canada’s, where if any substantial regulation of Big Tech is coming, it won’t be until after the federal election in October.