Canadian Supreme Court Says It's Fine To Censor The Global Internet; Authoritarians & Hollywood Cheer…

from the d'oh-canada dept

For the past few years, we’ve been covering the worrisome Google v. Equustek Solutions case in Canada. The case started out as a trademark case, in which Equustek claimed that another company was infringing on its trademarks online. That’s fine. The problem was that the lower court issued an injunction against Google (a non-party in the case) that said it had to block entire sites worldwide. Blocking sites already raises some concerns, but the worldwide part is the real problem. In 2015, an appeals court upheld that decision, and earlier today the Canadian Supreme Court agreed with both lower courts in a 7-2 decision.

The court is dismissive of any concerns about how an order from one country to block things on the internet globally might be abused — calling the concerns “theoretical” and unproven. That may not last very long. First, let’s look at the decision itself, and then the horrific possible consequences for free speech and innovation.

Google?s argument that a global injunction violates international comity because it is possible that the order could not have been obtained in a foreign jurisdiction, or that to comply with it would result in Google violating the laws of that jurisdiction, is theoretical. If Google has evidence that complying with such an injunction would require it to violate the laws of another jurisdiction, including interfering with freedom of expression, it is always free to apply to the British Columbia courts to vary the interlocutory order accordingly. To date, Google has made no such application. In the absence of an evidentiary foundation, and given Google?s right to seek a rectifying order, it is not equitable to deny E the extraterritorial scope it needs to make the remedy effective, or even to put the onus on it to demonstrate, country by country, where such an order is legally permissible.

This is a nifty trick: because you can’t show that this order might offend freedom of expression laws somewhere else in the world, let’s just assume it’s fair to apply absolutely everywhere. But… that’s not the issue. It’s not for a Canadian court to determine if its rulings obey the laws in other countries. A Canadian court has jurisdiction over Canada. And that’s it. This is not about balancing theoretical harm v. real harm, this is about jurisdiction.

The court tries to get around the jurisdictional question by saying because Google is available in Canada, somehow that makes it okay to censor globally, and further, notes that the lack of borders on the internet require such a result (ignoring how this will almost certainly create massive problems down the road):

The problem in this case is occurring online and globally. The Internet has no borders ? its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates ? globally. As Fenlon J. found, the majority of Datalink?s sales take place outside Canada. If the injunction were restricted to Canada alone or to google.ca, as Google suggests it should have been, the remedy would be deprived of its intended ability to prevent irreparable harm. Purchasers outside Canada could easily continue purchasing from Datalink?s websites, and Canadian purchasers could easily find Datalink?s websites even if those websites were deindexed on google.ca. Google would still be facilitating Datalink?s breach of the court?s order which had prohibited it from carrying on business on the Internet. There is no equity in ordering an interlocutory injunction which has no realistic prospect of preventing irreparable harm.

This sounds nice, but makes no sense. First, again, a Canadian court only has jurisdiction over Canada. If the irreperable harm is happening elsewhere, then that’s not the Canadian court’s jurisdction and it has no say in the matter. The fact that purchasers outside Canada can find Datalink’s website isn’t a matter for Canadian courts. This may sound unfair — as the court seemed to think — but take two seconds to flip the script and think about how this would work with a ruling in China about stories concerning Tiananmen Square, or in Saudi Arabia about LGBTQ rights — saying that Google had to de-index such sites in Canada, because they violated local law.

The second scary part about the ruling is that it’s not just saying that Google needs to de-index sites shown to involve infringement, but that it needs to de-index an entire site because other pages on that site might, at some future point, infringe. Really. The two dissenting judges pointed out how problematic this aspect is in the ruling, and how it actually gives Equustek even more than it was seeking.

The December 2012 Order gives Equustek more than the injunctive relief it sought in its originating claim. Rather than simply ordering the modification of Datalink websites, the December 2012 Order requires the ceasing of website business altogether.

And that creates an additional problem. Since Equustek is getting more than it wanted, and because the defendant in the original case has ignored the court process, it’s likely that this “temporary” injunction will effectively become a permanent one:

In our view, little incentive remains for Equustek to return to court to seek a lesser injunctive remedy. This is evidenced by Equustek?s choice to not seek default judgment during the roughly five years which have passed since it was given leave to do so.

Thus, the dissent notes, this is, in effect, a permanent injunction. And, it doesn’t come close to the standards necessary for such a permanent injunction — specifically in dragging a third party (i.e., Google) into the remedy:

As we will outline below, the Google Order enjoins a nonparty, yet Google has not aided or abetted Datalink?s wrongdoing? it holds no assets of Equustek?s, and has no information relevant to the underlying proceedings. The Google Order is mandatory and requires court supervision. It has not been shown to be effective, and Equustek has alternative remedies.

And, it fears that Google will be forced to continue to monitor and de-index any new website set up by Datalink:

The Google Order requires ongoing modification and supervision because Datalink is launching new websites to replace delisted ones. In fact, the Google Order has been amended at least seven times to capture Datalink?s new sites (orders dated November 27, 2014? April 22, 2015? June 4, 2015? July 3, 2015? September 15, 2015? January 12, 2016 and March 30, 2016). In our view, courts should avoid granting injunctions that require such cumbersome courtsupervised updating.

Finally, the dissent points out that it appears Datalink has assets in France, and Equustek could easily go after them there, and that would be a remedy that leaves Google out of the process.

Unfortunately, the dissent does not really delve into the problematic nature of a Canadian court claiming it can force a website to de-list sites globally. I already provided the Chinese/Saudi Arabian examples above, but Canadian law professor Michael Geist goes much deeper:

Google will obviously abide the ruling, but as I noted last year, what happens if a Chinese court orders it to remove Taiwanese sites from the index? Or if an Iranian court orders it to remove gay and lesbian sites from the index? Since local content laws differ from country to country, there is a great likelihood of conflicts. That leaves two possible problematic outcomes: local courts deciding what others can access online or companies such as Google selectively deciding which rules they wish to follow. The Supreme Court of Canada did not address the broader implications of the decision, content to limit its reasoning to the need to address the harm being sustained by a Canadian company, the limited harm or burden to Google, and the ease with which potential conflicts could be addressed by adjusting the global takedown order. In doing so, it invites more global takedowns without requiring those seeking takedowns to identify potential conflicts or assess the implications in other countries.

Geist also notes that this is part of the “drip drip drip” nature of mutliple rulings chipping away at free expression online:

This last paragraph noting that Google already removes links to certain content (hate speech, child pornography, and copyright takedowns) highlights the cumulative effect of court decisions and regulations that individually may seem reasonable but which quickly move toward takedowns of all kinds. In fact, the majority cites the international support for Internet injunctions with global effect as a justification for its own order. The net result is the expectation of all countries and courts that they may issue global takedown orders regardless of the impact on Internet users outside the jurisdiction or on Internet intermediaries.

Furthermore, Geist highlights where the court went wrong in saying that because it’s “easy” for Google to de-index a site worldwide, there’s no burden. But the technical burden is not the issue. The legal burden is:

Of course, the inconvenience does not come from the technical side of removing search results, which is indeed trivial. The real inconvenience comes from conflict of laws and the potential for global takedown orders coming from across the planet, thereby opening the door to other countries choosing what Canadians might be able to find in search results. Those issues ? along with the need to identify the laws in other countries in order to avoid conflicts ? do involve significant inconvenience and expense.

Indeed, a ruling like this likely will give Google more power over others, because Google has a large legal team that can handle this. Most other sites do not. Smaller sites cannot scour the globe to find out where such global takedown orders are legal and where they are not.

Another Canadian lawyer, Howard Knopf, is even more forward in pointing out how this will be abused by Hollywood:

I can just see the RIAA and MPAA salivating that the thought of getting global injunctions against Google at an interlocutory hearing from a trial judge in British Columbia. Will the mere fact that copyright subsists in BC – as it does virtually everywhere – be sufficient to get the injunction? One can imagine that few if any defendants would appear in such proceedings.

And, worse, he points out that even if Canadian trial judges see through that ploy, the RIAA & MPAA can just go jurisdiction shopping for other locations where courts will cite this case as a reason they can issue preliminary global injunctions. Canada just handed anyone who wants it a tool for global censorship. Anyone from authoritarian regimes to Hollywood may now begin to use it.

I recognize that some Google haters are cheering on this ruling because they will cheer on anything that makes Google look bad — and the RIAA/MPAA types are celebrating this new power over Google. But this is extremely short sighted. Enabling countries to reach across borders to censor the internet does not end well. You are giving veto power over speech to the most repressive regimes, just because you dislike a company. If that’s your view, you should perhaps check your priorities more carefully. And this goes doubly for the RIAA and MPAA. Those two organizations both used to fight for free speech. They both used to fight for the ability of musicians and filmmakers to express themselves. This tool that they helped create (they were involved in this case, pushing the view that the court eventually sided with), will be turned around and used to censor music and movies worldwide — and the legacy recording and film industries will have no one to blame but themselves.

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Companies: datalink, equustek solutions, google

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Comments on “Canadian Supreme Court Says It's Fine To Censor The Global Internet; Authoritarians & Hollywood Cheer…”

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91 Comments
Arthur Moore (profile) says:

EU Problems

The fun comes the moment that Google is sued in the EU for de-listing a website because of something like this. It’s going to turn into a catch 22, where the EU says Google can’t de-list something, and Canada says they must.

Given that the company that’s being de-listed has French assets it’s not as far fetched as you think. The EU has a massive anti-Google crusade going right now, and don’t seem to be thinking about long term consequences.

At this point, it looks like Google’s best option is to pull out of Canada entirely, and get a US court to rule that the Canadian ruling is overly broad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That won’t fly if the business is incorporated in those other countries. You must comply with the law in the places you are incorporated. BUT… only those parts of the company should be expected to comply since countries don’t have jurisdiction outside their own borders (hey, USA gov’t… did you catch that last part?).

OldMugwump (profile) says:

We need a law

Sooner or later Country A will demand that Google remove something worldwide, while Country B demands they make the same thing accessible.

The Canadian court has already said they’d reconsider if Google shows an actual conflicting law somewhere.

So – the US Congress should pass a law making it illegal for a US person to remove something from the US-accessible Internet solely based on a foreign court order or law.

The effect would be limited to the US, but it would intentionally setup a conflict with the laws of other countries (in this case, Canada).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We need a law

Not much of an OldMugwump are you?

Laws and Government authority comes with implicit can’s and can’t. Google has all the power they need to do what needs to be done here. It is entirely up to google if it will fold like a piece of paper or tell Canada that it can pound sand.

Google could really flex its muscle if it wanted and block all of Canada from it’s services for this.

So much for Canada being a “nice” country to live in. If not for the USA, Canada would have been invaded and taken over a long time ago.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: We need a law

Google can pressure Canada.

People running smaller websites (like, say, me) can’t.

When the international commerce and free expression of Americans is chilled by claims of extraterritorial authority by other countries, this old mugwump thinks it’s appropriate for the US government to act.

Canada is within its rights to demand removal from servers within Canada. And they can build a Great Firewall of Canada, if they really want to.

But they can’t tell people in other countries what they do within their own country.

(The US is far from innocent when it comes to extraterritorial claims, but that goes to the hypocrisy of what I’m proposing. Not its appropriateness.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: We need a law

“People running smaller websites (like, say, me) can’t.”

The size of the website is not the issue here. Just like I can insult the King of Thailand all I want while in the USA and they can’t do anything to me, I just can’t be stupid by taking a trip over to that country so they can physically put their hands on me.

“Canada is within its rights to demand removal from servers within Canada. And they can build a Great Firewall of Canada, if they really want to.”

Of course, I am not saying that Canada can’t do that. I am just saying that Google should preempt them make them really feel the pain and follow that up with making the search result the first thing everyone sees for a little while just to rub it in.

“(The US is far from innocent when it comes to extraterritorial claims, but that goes to the hypocrisy of what I’m proposing. Not its appropriateness.)”

Oh, trust me… I fully understand that America is one huge full of itself nation. I am American myself and this nation is rotten to its fucking ass core. We have loads of willfully blind, self righteous, and bigoted ass people acting like they are all seeing, wholesome, and free thinking. I used to be a stupid tool like the rest but I changed that. Now I am hated by both sides for not drinking someone’s fucked up cool-aid.

Canada can do whatever the fuck it wants… In its own borders. All Google has to do, is leave them and Canada loses all power.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 We need a law

The size of the website is not the issue here. Just like I can insult the King of Thailand all I want while in the USA and they can’t do anything to me, I just can’t be stupid by taking a trip over to that country so they can physically put their hands on me.

What’s that got to do with putting pressure on Thailand?

Canada can do whatever the fuck it wants… In its own borders. All Google has to do, is leave them and Canada loses all power.

But Google shouldn’t have to leave Canada. It should have the option of continuing to do business in Canada, and complying with Canada’s laws in Canada, without being sanctioned for violating Canadian law outside of Canada.

Immolate says:

Re: Re: Re:2 We need a law

I think the cure for what ails you (self righteousness) is to live in another country for ten years or so, in order that you might have something to compare all of the American hypocrites and stupid people to. If you find that your move was an improvement, in other words that the morons in Australia or China are a better quality of moron than the morons in America, well then, problem solved. Do nothing, and improve your life, while improving the life of those us you leave behind who no longer have to put up with your smug superiority. This assumes that you can find another country willing to take you, of course.

The good news for us is that there is an effectively infinite supply of people who’d rather live here than live wherever they are, so we can effortlessly replace all of those who are too good for us without ever noticing their departure, with people who are glad to be here.

Dave Gallagher says:

Re: Re: Re:2 We need a law

Coward is right, not about censorship or freedom of expression, Google was enabling fraud. Bergman, the law you are quoting isn’t relevant. There is no doubt that Equustek would prevail in any American court as well, clear cut case of counterfeit knockoffs. Why should a small privately owned business need to sue in every country in the world, just to force Google to behave responsibly? Instead of it being a Chinese company ripping off an American one, it was a couple of Americans ripping off a small Canadian business. BTW, I’m American, not Canadian, and have no problem with the Canadian Court ordering Google to do this.

I was personally burned by Datalink’s cheap pieces of crap thanks to Google. Instead of a global delist order, I would have preferred a HUGE punitive fine to help Google learn to do the right thing when presented with irrefutable evidence of criminality.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 We need a law

There is no doubt that Equustek would prevail in any American court

Then they should go to one.

BTW, I’m American, not Canadian, and have no problem with the Canadian Court ordering Google to do this.

The thing about legal precedent is that slippery slope arguments are valid to make.

So you agree with this specific ruling? Fair enough. It looks to me like everybody here agrees that Canada has the right to regulate Google’s content on Canadian websites.

But do you really not see any possible situation in which allowing nation X to control content that’s hosted in nation Y would be a problem?

I was personally burned by Datalink’s cheap pieces of crap thanks to Google.

I’m sorry to hear that. I almost bought a composite adapter for my GameCube on Amazon once, because that was the result that came up even though I’d searched for a component adapter.

Instead of a global delist order, I would have preferred a HUGE punitive fine to help Google learn to do the right thing when presented with irrefutable evidence of criminality.

One: Google is not a court of law. It is not qualified to determine what is "irrefutable evidence of criminality".

Two: I can’t speak for Canada, but here in the US we’ve got laws protecting people and websites from liability for linking to third-party content. Even if that content is criminal.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 We need a law

I have a big problem with Canada threatening Google with fines for what Google does outside of Canada.

This is a Canadian claim of extraterritorial power, which is inconsistent with the idea of sovereign nations not interfering in each others’ internal affairs.

Unfortunately, current US law doesn’t protect Google from that (so far as I know).

If it is indeed about "clear commercial fraud", that should be dealt with by a treaty agreement to mutually respect court decisions in limited and well-defined cases. Not with an extraterritorial claim.

The US is bad (very, very bad) about extraterritorial claims, too (anything re money laundering or drugs, for a start).

But two wrongs don’t make a right.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: We need a law

If not for the USA, Canada would have been invaded and taken over a long time ago.

The only danger of that has come from America. It invaded twice, in 1775 and 1812. (More, if you count militia invasions like the Fenian raids, Patriot War and "Dickson Filibuster".)

All failed.

But the rebuilt White House looks very nice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: We need a law

Hey, I made NO claims that there never has been any attempts. Heck I won’t even make the claim that there will be no further attempts either. Just stating that without us… they would have been squashed with certainty a long time ago. If the US fell to Britain during our independence do you think Mexico and Canada would have been left untouched? It’s fucking Britain… they have almost invaded every country on the damn planet.

That, or they would be forced to become America instead of us. America is a super power for a reason, Canada is not for a reason.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 We need a law

Just stating that without us… they would have been squashed with certainty a long time ago. If the US fell to Britain during our independence do you think Mexico and Canada would have been left untouched? It’s fucking Britain… they have almost invaded every country on the damn planet.

Wha….?

Canada is part of the British Commonwealth. It was run by Britain during all the invasions mentioned above, only gaining independence in several steps starting in 1867.

The US only became a military superpower in WWII. And even then Canada maintained a strong military for decades after. (It retired its last aircraft carrier in 1970.) It still has strong military ties to Britain.

Dave Gallagher says:

Re: Re: Re:3 We need a law

Canada has supported us militarily several times, but I don’t recall us ever joining them. I guess Canada was in both world wars before we were.

Canada enjoys considerable security from invasion, not sure if it’s because the US would immediately react to any attempt, or because nobody really wants to.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: We need a law

We already have a law. Sortof.

Under existing federal laws, any foreign court order that would be unconstitutional under the US constitution is automatically null and void within the borders of the US.

If US courts rule a given type of delisting to be unconstitutional under US law, then that delisting would be null and void if applied to a company inside the US.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Meanwhile...

Canada has the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act to prevent this sort of thing happening in the opposite direction.

It’s a reaction to American anti-Cuba laws that over-reach their borders to stop Canadian companies – including Canadian subsidiaries and branches of U.S. companies – from trading with Cuba. Canada forbids companies from complying with those laws and orders them to notify the Canadian government if pressured to do so.

I’m not sure how well that’s worked out; just last week the American Honda Finance Corporation paid an $87,255 fine because their Canadian subsidiary leased cars to the Cuban embassy in Ottawa.

So…

Will America pass a law mandating fines for American companies that comply with foreign orders affecting freedom of speech in America? One that states that while Google Canada may comply, but Google US must not?

And like Honda Finance, will Google be forced to decide which country’s law to break, and pay the fines as a cost of doing international business?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Meanwhile...

I’m not a fan of any degree of corporations swinging their power around like a giant dick, knocking over everything they can. But I’m even less a fan of government overreach. Maybe multinational corporations need to split apart into independent entities who just happen to do a lot of business with one another. Governments [ab]using multinationals to get what they want outside their borders has to stop.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: Re: Size is the issue....brings on the problems

The issue, more than anything, is the concentration of power in the hands of a few, giant bureaucracies…from where I sit, I can’t tell if those bureaucrats are “civil servants” or “company employees”.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Competition usually helps; consolidation generally hurts competition.

Andrew (profile) says:

Once again, people forget that “google” != “the internet”. Just because one search engine doesn’t show listings for a particular site doesn’t make that site vanish.

Not that the court should have done anything at all, but wouldn’t going after the hosting company been better? Or, you know, maybe the company actually doing something wrong (Datalink)?

Daniel Audy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

For all intents and purposes, at the moment, Google is the internet for the North America, Europe, and a good chunk of the rest of the world because they are so much superior to all the alternatives that there is no competition. There is a reason that no one bothers to sue Bing or Yahoo to delist anything since at the moment, no one is seeing the unwanted thing through them as they are sub-par services with practically no user base. If this trend continues of courts picking away at Google’s ability to accurately return search results we may see other services rise in prominence since only by searching multiple services are we likely to get honest, un-censored results.

Anonymous Coward says:

Clinton News Network should be censored

Since most all leftist news organizations are propaganda machines for the left, they should be censored. CNN got caught faking the Trump-Russia connection which anyone with common sense knew was fake. Yet lefists went out and threw tantrums on queue. Poor leftists keep losing.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Clinton News Network should be censored

There’s a mountain of very real and well documented connections between Trump and Russia, and Trump’s team and Russia. And that’s not counting what the FBI hasn’t shared.

Someone at CNN "faked" yet another connection. CNN retracted it within a day, and accepted the resignations of three journalists.

Contrast that with Fox News’s conspiritard wingnuttery on murder of Seth Rich. They kept repeating it for a week after it was shown to be fake. No resignations or firings. A false accusation that would result in retractions in firings at CNN is standard practice and an hourly occurrence at Fox.

CNN is "leftist?" Only if you believe that "facts have a left-wing bias." The network is merely insufficiently biased to the right for the Tea Party / Breitbart / gullible inbred crowd.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Clinton News Network should be censored

The left is 0-4 in special elections this month so you better shift tactics or keep losing. Of course I hope you keep up the name calling, labeling, lying and violence because people are tired of it and rebelling at the ballot box.

http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/jan/25/cokie-roberts/have-democrats-lost-900-seats-state-legislatures-o/

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Clinton News Network should be censored

Only Trump told his crowds to beat protesters, and some in his crowds actually did so. Only Trump told them he’d pay their legal bills for doing so.

Only at Trump rallies did the press fear for their safety as Trump whipped the crowd into a frenzy while pointing at the press area and declaring them his enemies and enemies of America.

Only Republicans – Trump in particular – declared everyone in one religion and everyone from one country – both well-represented in America – to be either terrorists or rapists and murderers.

Only Trump has a white supremacist chief advisor (Bannon) and a non-metaphorical Nazi (Gorka) as another.

Only Trump and his fellow Republicans promised post-election carpet bombing and the resumption of torture.

But sure, not because folks at Trump rallies follow a violent ideology. Trump just wanted to inject a little enthusiasm into an otherwise placid and contemplative group of people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Clinton News Network should be censored

Go to YouTube and look up any one of many videos of the leftist protest violence. It was the left that burned the Muslim immigrants limousine and broke out Startbucks windows. They beat women with their protest signs, they pepper spray women as well. It has also resorted in a lefty shooting a congressman. For you to be ignorant of this fact is amazing and only shows the willful ignorance of the left. If you watched anything but CNN and the other lefty outlets you would know this. Please take the red pill, you will be happier, more well adjusted. Oh, and a whole lot less violent.

Or take the blue pill and keep losing.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Clinton News Network should be censored

That was anarchists that burned the limo. It would still happen in a Democratic presidency, the very same people protesting the Democrat President, and they’d be described as “right-wing.” The armed militants who seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge weren’t exactly pro-Obama or pro-Hillary.

You’ll always find extremist outliers on both the left and right. But only the leadership of one side of the campaign was encouraging them.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I laughed at your comment but I wonder what would happen if Google simply decided to leave Canada and only the international site worked there. This could send a powerful message.

Another way would be Google block Govt sites for LGBT diversity and things blasphemous in Iran and display a flashy note to Canadians citing that specific ruling as the reason they are being blocked based on Iran law. That would be amusing to watch too.

stderric (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I thought it was amusing to imagine a country that’s trying to impose its will globally being reminded that the internet is too large, too complex, and too ubiquitous to be controlled by any one entity. Then I thought about the fact that Google has enough power to actually do that sort of ‘reminding’.

At what point do we start to worry that Google, as a whole, might actually be alive? Not ‘US corporations are people’ alive: I mean ‘Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own’ alive. I’m sure this is one of those ideas that’s been analyzed to death already and I was going to do a search for it, but then I started worrying that that might be something The Google watches out for…

stderric (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, I went ahead and did a search on ‘is google alive’. I don’t really remember my results exactly, kinda had a micro-nap somewhere along the way, but I’m sure everything is fine. Just fine. Y’know, life’s pretty damn good, and I’m just super-happy about feeling happy. Everyone needs to be happy now. I do have a bit of a weird headache, but that’s OK with me: it just means I’ll be even happier when it goes away. Headaches are really just frowny friends. Time for more nap now.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's a Shame the Canadian Supreme Court Doesn't Know...

How websites work at all. Being de-listed from Google (and Yahoo, and Bing, and other search engines that care enough to comply to requests) is, and should always be, the burden of the website owner. Flip that robots.txt to disallow and let the magic spiders do their thing.

I mean you wouldn’t sue Chicago because someone’s door violates the DMCA. You’d make the home owner exceptionally miserable instead.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It's a Shame the Canadian Supreme Court Doesn't Know...

No, more that any site that has the offending content should resolve this themselves. Censorship as a whole is bad of course but unless Google has built the websites that reference yada yada yada….

You know what? I can’t figure out what it supposed to be de-listed. I just know whatever it is should be the site owner’s responsibility, not Google’s.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Again, Google runs into the buzz saw, instead of taking a hint.

Oh, they tried. Google agreed to pull out of Spain and Germany, and subsequently all the local news organizations took a dump in their pants, begging Google to stay so Google could pay them their monetary demands.

Knuckle-draggers like you really don’t seem to think things through at all.

PNRCinema (profile) says:

The easiest way around this is the simpleist

Whenever a country – in this case Canada – makes one of these utterly preposterous determinations, Google should simply de-list the main domain of that country – in this case, .ca – from the ENTIRE Google network, and flag anything that comes up mentioning Canada or a specific city in that country. And lock up Google Canada as well. That way, no one in the world will have Canadian sites come up in their search results. And make Google itself unavailable to the same rule. After about 30 days of howling and pounding by local businessmen and patrons in the country the issue is with, when their investment and tourism dollars drop like a stone, they’ll rethink how they plan to do things when it comes to so-called “global” decisions…

Sure, it’s technically blackmail, I suppose…but well worth the fun and hijinx it might cause…and since Google is NOT based in Canada, and is not subject to Canadian laws unless it specifically pertains to that country, I don’t think they’d have any way to fight back… Just think of it as another SOPA campaign…

ThatFatMan (profile) says:

“The problem in this case is occurring online and globally. The Internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates — globally.”

Ok, Canada has clearly defined borders, and as they openly admit, the Internet does not. Am I the only one that thinks that the Canadian court here just admitted they don’t have jurisdiction?

Anonymous Coward says:

We need a world wide declaration of rights for internet users ,
item one is a court in one country cannot rule
on the rights of users in another country to access content or websites
based in another country .
IF canada wants to ask block websites in canada they could use other legal means or ask canadian isps to block them.

Dave Gallagher says:

Internet censorship

I am instinctively against internet censorship, or frankly any government regulation of it.

This is not a case of censorship or regulation. I was personally burned by this datalink outfit. Equustek, to their great credit, replaced the illegal knockoffs with their fine product,at cost! 1st class outfit.

This is a case of Google being dirtbags. They had all the information available, and KNEW that they were facilitating defrauding a small business. The counterfeiting case had already been to court. Did Google do the right thing? Hell no, they acted like…well, Google does.

If you searched for an Allen Bradley to IP gateway, The top links Google listed were for a Datalink unit, even though Google already knew that the units were cheap illegal knockoffs of an Equustek product. Equustek worked hard and long to get Google to fix the problem, but Google basically flipped them the bird. Finally a Canadian court ordered Google to stop referring customers to the illegal product, Google did, but only in Canada.

I personally don’t think the court should have ordered Google to remove the links globally, they should have fined Google 1/2 billion dollars punitively to give them an overdue attitude adjustment. It’s not all that much based on Google’s revenue, but enough to get their attention.

Google needs to start acting like a responsible company. when presented with clear, irrefutable evidence that they are enabling criminal activity, they need to do the right thing without a court forcing them to. Datalink was probably paying Google to get listed first, which is why Google didn’t want to block them.

Once you know the whole story, the outrage isn’t the court order, it’s that Google made it necessary.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Be very careful setting precedent, you never know who will use it

Google needs to start acting like a responsible company. when presented with clear, irrefutable evidence that they are enabling criminal activity, they need to do the right thing without a court forcing them to.

As several other people have pointed out pro-LGBT content is in conflict with the laws in other countries(Russia and Iran being the examples that people mentioned). As such one could easily make the argument that providing links to such content is ‘enabling criminal activity’, as it’s linking to illegal content.

Given that, and expanding upon the idea that services like Google should be required to de-list globally, were Google presented with ‘irrefutable evidence that they are enabling criminal activity’ by linking to such content, would you likewise agree that they should be obligated to remove such links globally, and if not why not?

Kevin Hayden (profile) says:

Google should stop indexing Equustek as well

Maybe Google should just stop indexing search results for Equustek as well as Datalink. That should send a clear message:”FUCK WITH US AND YOU’RE TOAST”. I don’t think there’s a law that Google must show Equustek in their results, and I’m sure this fiasco probably cost them a ton of legal fees, so why should Google be doing them any favours? It might make others who are too stupid to realize that Google is not the internet think twice about engaging in bullshit actions such as this.

By the way, I’m Canadian and think the court really fucked up on this one. Probably not their fault though as they don’t understand all the technology involved and the various quirks that go with it. We could really use a Judge Alsup here, or at least some judges who realize when they’re out of their depth and will call in some experts when needed.

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