Google Defeats Worldwide Site Blocking Order in US Court

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Google has won its case against Canadian company Equustek Solutions. The search engine is not required to block content worldwide based on a Canadian Supreme Court hearing, a California Federal Court has affirmed. An important ruling for Google, which argued that freedom of speech was at stake.

As the largest search engine on the Internet, Google has received its fair share of takedown requests. Over the past year, the company removed roughly a billion links from its search results.

However, this doesn’t mean that Google will remove everything it’s asked to. When a Canadian court demanded the search engine to delist sites that offered unlawful and competing products of Equustek Solutions, it fought back.

After several years in court, the Supreme Court of Canada directed Google to remove the websites from its search results last summer. This order wasn’t limited to Canada alone, but applied worldwide.

Worried about the possible negative consequences the broad verdict could have, Google then took the case to the US, and with success.

A federal court in California already signed a preliminary injunction a few weeks ago, disarming the Canadian order, and a few days ago ruled that Google has won its case.

Case closed

According to the California court, the Canadian Supreme court ruling violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, putting free speech at risk.

It would also go against Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which offers search engines and other Internet services immunity from liability for material published by others.

“The Canadian order would eliminate Section 230 immunity for service providers that link to third-party websites,” the court wrote.

“By forcing intermediaries to remove links to third-party material, the Canadian order undermines the policy goals of Section 230 and threatens free speech on the global internet.”

After a legal battle that kept the Canadian court busy since 2014, the US case was solved rather quickly. Equustek Solutions didn’t show up and failed to defend itself, which made it an easy win.

Now that the permanent injunction is signed the case will be closed. While Google still has to delist the contested pages in Canada, it no longer has to do the same worldwide.

As highlighted previously, the order is very important in the broader scheme. If foreign courts are allowed to grant worldwide blockades, free speech could be severely hampered.

Today it’s a relatively unknown Canadian company, but the damage could be much more severe if the Chinese Government asked Google to block the websites of VPN providers, or any other information they don’t like.

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