A British Columbia court has denied Google’s request to vary an injunction requiring it to remove search results from its global index, concluding that a U.S. ruling that did not demonstrate that the removal would result in a violation of U.S. law. The Google v. Equustek case has attracted international attention with the Supreme Court of Canada upholding a global takedown order. That decision noted that it was open to Google to raise potential conflict of laws with the B.C. court in the hopes of varying the order:
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As elected officials place Internet giants such as Google and Facebook under an increasingly intense microscope, the pressure mounts on those companies to play more proactive roles in policing content on their networks. In recent weeks, the demands have come from seemingly every direction: privacy commissioners seeking rules on the removal of search results, politicians calling for increased efforts to address fake news on Internet platforms, and Internet users wondering why the companies are slow to takedown allegedly defamatory or harmful postings.
My Globe and Mail op-ed notes Internet companies can undoubtedly do more, but laying the responsibility primarily at their feet poses its own risks as governments and regulators effectively cede responsibility for content moderation and policing to private, for-profit companies. In doing so, there is a real chance that the Internet giants will become even more powerful, limiting future competition and entrenching an uncomfortable reliance on private organizations for activities that are traditionally conducted by courts and regulators.
Coalition Featuring Google, Amazon, GoDaddy and CogecoPeer1 Warn Against Canadian Site Blocking Plan: Lost Jobs, Stifled Innovation
The Internet Infrastructure Coalition, which features key players from across the Internet infrastructure industry including hosting and cloud service providers, domain registries, domain registrars, data centers, payment processors, and software developers, has filed a submission with the CRTC strongly opposing the Bell coalition website blocking plan. The coalition features a who’s who of some of the Internet’s biggest names: Google, Amazon, GoDaddy, and Verisign. There is also a notable Canadian presence including Tucows, Tuangru, and CogecoPeer1 (the inclusion of CogecoPeer1, which is owned by Cogeco Communications, is particularly interesting since Cogeco Connexion, a fellow subsidiary, is a member of the site blocking coalition).
Last year’s Supreme Court of Canada Google v. Equustek case, which upheld a B.C. court’s global takedown order, continues to play out in the courts. The Supreme Court decision noted that it was open to Google to raise potential conflict of laws with the B.C. court in the hopes of varying the order:
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.
Why the Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Proposed Right to be Forgotten Creates More Problems Than it Solves
The right to be forgotten, which opens the door to public requests for the removal of search results that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”, has been among the world’s most controversial privacy issues since it was first established in Europe in 2014. My Globe and Mail op-ed notes that the new right responds to concerns with potential reputational harms from inaccurate or misleading information online, but faces the challenge of balancing privacy protections with the benefits of the Internet for access to information and freedom of expression.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada waded into the debate on Friday with a new draft report concluding that Canadian privacy law can be interpreted to include a right to de-index search results with respect to a person’s name that are inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated. The report, which arises from a 2016 consultation on online reputation, sets the stage for potential de-indexing requests in Canada and complaints to the Privacy Commissioner should search engines refuse to comply.