Canada’s highest court ruled Wednesday that Google must remove search results around the world when authorities demand.
“The internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global,” the Supreme Court wrote in its verdict, according to Reuters. “The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates – globally.”
Historically, Google only eliminated data within Canada upon request. Equustek, a tech company in the province of British Columbia, accused distribution partner Datalink Technologies Gateways in 2012 of selling their devices as if it were their copyrighted property. Equustek also alleged that Datalink stole trade secrets and used it to create another product, Reuters reports.
After Google agreed to remove more than 300 web pages with Datalink content in Canada, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered Google to purge its site of the search results globally.
In its appeal Wednesday, Google argued that freedom of expression is critical for the platform. The Supreme Court of Canada, though, contended in a 7-2 decision that “we have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods.”
Since Google only cleanses the site for Canadian users, consumers in other nations around the world can just as easily purchase products from Datalink, which is viewed as an injustice to many in the home country.
Civil liberties groups in Canada, though, worry about the slippery slope it may cause both possibly within the country and beyond.
“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court of Canada today put access to information at risk by trying to enforce Canadian law in every country on earth,” Dinah PoKempner, general counsel of Human Rights Watch, said in an official statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Other countries may soon follow this example, in ways that more obviously force Google to become the world’s censor. If every country tries to enforce its own idea of what is proper to put on the Internet globally, we will soon have a race to the bottom where human rights will be the loser.”
Several countries have legally sparred with Google, as well as other tech companies like Facebook, over removing content it deems unseemly or wrong. (RELATED: EU Threatens Massive Internet Censorship If Big Tech Won’t Come To Heel)
“We are carefully reviewing the Court’s findings and evaluating our next steps,” a Google spokesperson told TheDCNF.
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