This week a Supreme Court ruling in Canada defended an injunction against Google in demanding the Google delist websites related to a British Columbia data company called Datalink Technology Gateways. Datalink was sued by another firm called Equustek for selling counterfeit items of their products. The Canadian court ruled in favor of Equustek when Datalink essentially left the country and opened up elsewhere. The court then took it a step further by demanding that Google not only delist the company on Canadian websites but also on ALL of their search engines globally. The issue isn’t Datalink but rather the precedent being set. Can a court in one country make a decision that affects people in other countries? Before the internet that was a laughable question but now that the world has been intertwined by the World Wide Web, is it possible? According to the Canadian Supreme Court the answer is yes.
The ruling against Google should be a concern to anyone who believes in true net neutrality or who believes in the perpetuation of civil rights. This ruling could have wide ranging consequences as it has given a green light to courts around the world to do the same thing. It isn’t the first time that such a ruling has occurred which should validate what I am trying to say. The European injunction on the “right to be forgotten” was enforced on a global scale. It forced Google to delete and delist online content from all of its search engines, even in countries not in the EU. Another ruling out of France forces their much more strict laws of free speech in forcing Google to delist online sites that sell Nazi and other paraphernalia.
Again, this isn’t about the actual thing being banned globally it’s the precedent of a court in one country having that power. It is a growing trend where more Left-leaning countries are now able to affect what you right here in America can find on their search engines. Admittedly it doesn’t shut down the sites but by basically taking away the road to their store, it has effectively done so. I can’t say this enough, it’s not me defending the sale of Nazi flags (though on a philosophical level by banning such things you give them power and set up a road to the erosion of free speech ) nor the sale of counterfeit products. But rather, I am against the precedent being set.
In addition, what happens when courts start making rules globally that we in the liberal West don’t like? For example, Google cannot list anything in China that the government finds seditious. Their strict censorship goes so far as to delist pro-LGBT websites and websites calling for or promoting democracy. What happens when a court in China orders that level of censorship worldwide? Will Google be forced to follow? Can they be forced to follow? By allowing the EU and Canada to say yes to both of these questions, we are inevitably saying yes to China. What happens when Saudi courts start enforcing blasphemy laws on Google? What happens when the EU starts deciding what’s hate speech worldwide? What happens when the things we disagree with are forced upon us? Who gave these people that kind of power? The slow erosion of our rights has been cheered by the left in this country for years, but they don’t seem to understand the long-term consequences. We must stand up to this overreaching of transnational jurisdiction now before we in America are being held to the same censorship standards of tyrants and religious zealots.
Editor’s note: This is a slippery slope that has already gotten out of hand.