Canada's top court rules Google must block some results worldwide

Reuters

First, it's important to note that - despite the direct effects of this decision on Google - the Internet behemoth is not a party to the lawsuit that led to this judgment.

The case stems from Canadian company Equustek Solutions, a manufacturer of networking technology, which had successfully sued another company for re-labeling its products and passing them off as their own.

In 2011, Equustek took action against another B.C. company, Datalink, its former distributor, accusing it of stealing trade secrets and illegally marketing Equustek's invention, mostly outside Canada.

That's where Google comes in. The Canadian Supreme Court, however, downplayed this objection and called Google's fears "theoretical".

Unfortunately, rather than address the decision's broader implications, the Supreme Court of Canada limited its reasoning to the trials faced by Equustek, which struggled in vain to push Datalink's website offline before obtaining an order from the British Columbia Supreme Court, and the relative ease with which Google could comply, Geist said.

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In 2012, Equustek asked Google to remove Datalink search results until the case against the company was resolved.

The Supreme Court was not persuaded that an injunction against Google would trample the rights of freedom of expression.

George TsartsianidisThe Canadian Supreme Court today ruled the country has the authority to demand Google censor and remove links to certain web pages or online content.

Google is barred from displaying anywhere in the world the websites of a company accused of counterfeiting a Canadian technology company's products, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled. The groups say the sweeping injunction impinges on freedom of expression and sets a unsafe precedent for other countries to remove objectionable content - for their own moral or political reasons - from the internet in any country. "The Internet has no borders - its natural habitat is global".

Justice Rosalie Abella said the only way to ensure that the injunction met its objective was to have the order apply where Google operates - all over the world.

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In its appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada, Google had argued that the global reach of the order was unnecessary and that it raised concerns over freedom of expression.

"This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values", the court said in its ruling. "If the injunction were restricted to Canada alone or to google.ca, the remedy would be deprived of its intended ability to prevent irreparable harm". Respectfully, the pending litigation assumed by our colleague Abella J.is a fiction.

Sookman predicted it could be used to enforce orders against Google and other search engines who may be innocent third parties but are key to protecting the rights of others, perhaps to safeguard an individual's privacy rights, for example in the case of a major data breach where a corporation loses control over customers' private information.

"The problem in this case is occurring online and globally". It is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. "Courts should avoid granting injunctions that require such cumbersome court-supervised updating". The rights organization joined a coalition of civil liberties groups, as well as several news organizations, in arguing the Canadian courts were overextending themselves and threatening free speech across the globe. EFF published a lengthy post in response to the decision, describing it as "worldwide Internet censorship".

A rep for Google sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement Wednesday: "We are carefully reviewing the Court's findings and evaluating our next steps".

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