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Google Challenges Canadian Supreme Court Delisting Ruling in US Court

Google has filed a lawsuit in California in response to the Canadian Supreme Court’s order to apply the “right to be forgotten” globally. Google argues that the ruling violates US law.

The Canadian Supreme Court’s (CSC) decision to force Google to remove its links globally has turned into a drama that may be played out in the US courts. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how prickly the Canadian court’s decision would be to implement.

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In its decision to seek redress in the US courts, Google also contends it was chosen by the complaining company, Equustek, out of frustration and convenience because it is the biggest and most ubiquitous search engine. In case you missed it, the CSC ruling stated,

“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.”

This is an impossible situation for Google. Unlike the recent EU ruling, the Canadian one is compounded by the fact that the CSC’s decision cannot be appealed further. Google has no more legal cards to play in Canada. Hence, it will try its luck in a more friendly territory – a US District Court in Northern California, where the company resides.

In the US, Google can press its case in a country that espouses First Amendment privileges widely. According to Google, internet search results are fully protected speech under the First Amendment. Evidently, the same status doesn’t hold in Canada. This is one of the key tenets of Google’s disagreement with the CSC. That is, different countries apply laws differently, and thus a local decision cannot be projected across global borders.

In my earlier article, I offered the example of how different free speech is in the US or even Canada as compared with, say, Thailand. In Thailand, you could be imprisoned for criticizing the king, or the ruling government. Were the same rules applied in the US, the jails would be overflowing with those who oppose President Trump.

Regarding Equustek, a Google spokesperson claimed,

“Equustek has not sought similar delisting injunctions against the world’s other search engines, such as Bing or Yahoo.”

The spokesperson went on to note that action hasn’t been taken against regular websites carrying links either, such as Datalink. Equustek could have gone directly after Datalink’s web hosts but apparently, according to Google, grabbed for the low-hanging fruit and instead chose to go after the ubiquitous, big prize of Google. The CSC conveniently complied.

Now, Google will ask the US District Court in Northern California to declare the Canadian court’s decision invalid in the US. The company maintains that,

“The Canadian Order purports to place the Canadian court in the position of supervising the law enforcement activities of a foreign sovereign nation (the United States) against the United States’ own citizens on American soil. Because the Canadian courts ignored principles of international comity, corrective action by this Court is required.”

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The fallout from any ruling will spread far and wide. It has huge implications financially, philosophically, and operationally, not just for the search engine giant, but for the industry as a whole. It will bear watching going forward. Stay tuned!

Image Credit: rawf8/shutterstock.com


Stan Ward Stan Ward has enjoyed writing for 50 years. Writing has been a comfortable companion to a successful business and teaching career for him. Find him on Google+.

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