Abandoned border by mtsrs (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/49aR7g

Abandoned border by mtsrs (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/49aR7g

Jurisdiction

Erasing history by Alan Cleaver (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9a21aJ

Global Deletion Orders? B.C. Court Orders Google To Remove Websites From its Worldwide Index

In the aftermath of the European Court of Justice “right to be forgotten” decision, many asked whether a similar ruling could arise in Canada. While a privacy-related ruling has yet to hit Canada, last week the Supreme Court of British Columbia relied in part on the decision in issuing an unprecedented order requiring Google to remove websites from its global index. The ruling in Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack is unusual since its reach extends far beyond Canada. Rather than ordering the company to remove certain links from the search results available through Google.ca, the order intentionally targets the entire database, requiring the company to ensure that no one, anywhere in the world, can see the search results. Note that this differs from the European right to be forgotten ruling, which is limited to Europe.

The implications are enormous since if a Canadian court has the power to limit access to information for the globe, presumably other courts would as well. While the court does not grapple with this possibility, what happens if a Russian court orders Google to remove gay and lesbian sites from its database? Or if Iran orders it remove Israeli sites from the database? The possibilities are endless since local rules of freedom of expression often differ from country to country. Yet the B.C. court adopts the view that it can issue an order with global effect. Its reasoning is very weak, concluding that:

the injunction would compel Google to take steps in California or the state in which its search engine is controlled, and would not therefore direct that steps be taken around the world. That the effect of the injunction could reach beyond one state is a separate issue.

Unfortunately, it does not engage effectively with this “separate issue.”

Read more ›

June 17, 2014 31 comments News

The Challenge of Enforcing the Do-Not-Call List Against Foreign Telemarketers

Last October, the CRTC announced that it was taking action against two India-based companies for violating Canada’s do-not-call list. The action against Pecon Software Limited was particularly noteworthy, as the Commission ordered a stop to the violations and payment of $495,000. Andrea Rosen, the CRTC’s Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer was quoted as saying that “foreign-based telemarketers have been put on notice that they must comply with our rules when calling Canadians.”

The tough talk was welcome, but months later, the CRTC has struggled to get Pecon Software to pay up. Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay asked the government to provide an update on the action and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore provided the following update to the House of Commons on Friday:

Read more ›

April 22, 2013 13 comments News

Quebec Court Rejects eBay’s Online Contract Opening Door to Local Lawsuit

Few things are more common on the Internet than the lengthy, largely incomprehensible, online contracts that are often buried at the bottom of web pages with a simple link to “terms”. These agreements sometimes run dozens of pages if printed out and invariably transfer all responsibility and liability to the user, while selecting a jurisdiction clause that is advantageous to the website and inconvenient to most users.

Consumers agree to these contracts dozens of times each day (sometimes proactively by clicking that they agree and most other times by impliedly agreeing to the terms by using the website), but the enforceability of all the terms within the agreement remains an open question.

The law has removed most uncertainty about whether an electronic contract can be enforceable – it can – but ensuring that the form of the contract is valid does not mean that all of its provisions will be enforced by a court.  My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that last month, a Quebec court provided an important reminder that some provisions may not be enforced, as it rejected eBay’s standard terms which require all disputes to be adjudicated in California.

Read more ›

April 4, 2013 10 comments Columns

Quebec Court Says No to eBay’s Online Contract

Appeared in the Toronto Star on March 30, 2013 as Quebec Court Says No To eBay’s Online Contract Few things are more common on the Internet than the lengthy, largely incomprehensible, online contracts that are often buried at the bottom of web pages with a simple link to “terms”. These […]

Read more ›

April 3, 2013 Comments are Disabled Columns Archive

Courts Adopt Aggressive Approach in Cross-Border Internet Jurisdiction Cases

In a world where data now moves effortlessly between computers on the Internet without regard for geographic borders, is the appearance of a website on a computer screen sufficient for a court to claim that a trademark has been used in the country? Is the use of a computer server enough to assert jurisdiction over a non-resident?  My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that two recent cross-border cases – one Canadian and one U.S. which both pitted a U.S. company against a Canadian individual – found that it is.

The Canadian case involved a trade-mark dispute over the mark VRBO. Martin Hrdlicka, a Toronto resident, registered the mark in Canada in 2009. Just over a year later, Homeaway.com, a U.S. company that owns the popular VRBO.com site, sought to expunge the trade-mark on the grounds that Hrdlicka was not entitled to register the mark and had no intent to use it.

Homeaway.com’s legal challenge was that the company had no operations in Canada, though many Canadians may have accessed its U.S.-based website. Trade-mark law requires some use of the mark in Canada, yet the “use” in this case was largely confined to the availability of the VRBO website on computer screens.

Read more ›

January 9, 2013 6 comments Columns