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Google Businesses Canada The Courts United States

Google Wins Ruling to Block Global Censorship Order (fortune.com) 89

A U.S. judge has partially blocked a recent decision by Canada's Supreme Court that requires Google to delete search results not just in Canada, but in every other country too. From a report: Citing the violation of American laws as well as a threat to speech, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila agreed to grant Google a temporary injunction, which means the company can show the search results in the United States. The search results in question are part of an intellectual property dispute between a Canadian industrial firm called Equustek and a rival company that is reportedly misusing Equustek's trademarks to poach its business. In response, Equustek obtained an injunction in Canada that treated Google as a defendant even though it had no direct relationship with either company. In a controversial decision in June, Canada's highest court agreed by a 7-2 margin to leave the injunction in place.
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Google Wins Ruling to Block Global Censorship Order

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  • by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Friday November 03, 2017 @01:48PM (#55484807)
    Should be good for the gander. When I browse google.ca I see references that entries have been removed due to the US DMCA, so why should other countries in which Google operates be able to do the same.
    • We are also forced to watch FBI warnings on DVDs. Not sure if they are still on Blu Rays (probably)

    • Who would be removing stories giving details of this case from google.ca?
      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/... [www.cbc.ca]
      All I see is "Details of the case are subject to a publication ban". How often does that happen in the U.S.? All we know is somebody threw a trailer hitch that killed somebody. Which begs the question what else are they doing?
      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        Not sure how that is relevant at all.... but publication bans are typically for preventing prejudicing potential jurors, after the case ends there may still be some restrictions (e.g. can't publish the name of a sexual assault victim or the name of a defendant who is a minor).
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Copyright is a different issue, and I'll explain why. I'm in the United States and I've seen content on YouTube that's been blocked on copyright grounds by companies in Canada, the UK, and Australia. The DMCA can't directly be enforced in any of those countries, nor can their copyright laws be directly enforced in the US. Instead, those countries have agreed to international treaties to respect the copyright laws of other countries. In your case, Canada has ratified treaties agreeing to respect US copyr

      • by davecb ( 6526 )
        That's a good description of the general case, but the Canadian one is actually about misuse of secrets, counterfeit hardware and fleeing to the EU to avoid prosecution. The law is distinctly fuzzier, with fewer and different treaties in play.
    • Because the US doesn't ask any other countries to do this. Google is based out of the US, so it is beholden to US laws, which for better or for worse (worse in this case, IMO) Google has to comply with the DMCA. Notice other search engines not based in the US don't do this (Yandex, for example.)

      However, any tech company with a presence in another country can be asked by that country to apply rules in other countries, which is what Canada is doing (France and a number of its fellow neo-fascist states in Euro

  • by j-beda ( 85386 ) on Friday November 03, 2017 @01:55PM (#55484857) Homepage

    Directly from the article:
    "It’s unclear, however, what exactly what will happen now since Google, if it restores the search results in the United States, could be acting in contempt of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision. Currently, there are over 300 search results Google has had to suppress."

    While the original Canadian decision seems like overreach, the US result doesn't really sheild Google if they restore the results in the US. In some sense it is an overreach too.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How is the US court ruling an overreach here? As I understand it, Google Canada Corporation is a subsidiary of Google LLC. Google Canada is a Canadian company and is most certainly subject to Canadian law. Google LLC owns Google Canada and many other subsidiaries, but Google LLC is based in the US and conducting business in the US. At issue here is that the Canadian court is trying to force Google LLC and all of Google LLC's other subsidiaries around the world to abide by the Canadian court ruling. The

      • by j-beda ( 85386 )

        The American court is simply stating that Google LLC's operations in the US are not subject to Canadian law

        But the American court has absolutely no say on what is subject to the Canadian laws. The ultimate body that has any say over what Canadian law applies to is the Canadian Supreme Court, and in this case they already made a ruling. It might be the "wrong" ruling, but almost by definition it is legally "right" in the context of Canadian law.

        Sure, when a national court does something stupid or foolish or whatever, there are lots of pundits who say "they can't do that!", but one country's courts can't really ov

    • by davecb ( 6526 )
      If Google was strictly a US company that didn't do business in Canada, a Canadian court would send an order based on the outcome of the suit to the US, and ask them to enforce it there. In this case, Google is one company subject to two contradictory sets of laws, a much worse situation to be in.
      • I'm not so sure. Google Canada Corporation is a Canadian corporation and they would have to comply with a court order requiring that certain search results be suppressed. Google itself, however, isn't a Canadian corporation and doesn't have (AFAIK) offices or servers in Canada. (That's what Google Canada Corporation is for, after all.) IANAL, but my impression is that the most a Canadian court can do is order that Google suppress those searches in requests made from Canada and request US courts to enfor
        • by davecb ( 6526 )

          Google US admitted it does business in Canada, so it can't say it's the Canadian branch's problem. The branch is a wholly owned subsidiary in any case, so they lose even if they try to say "Blame (our branch in) Canada".

          It's hard to make a multinational look like a collection of national companies: the courts look at reality and say "tell it to the judge" (sarcastically (;-))

    • by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday November 03, 2017 @06:18PM (#55486645)

      My understanding is that in their ruling, the Canadian Supreme Court basically pointed out that while it was possible that their decision would violate laws in other countries, nobody hadn't presented any arguments or evidence to that effect.

      In other words, they specifically left it open as an "out" for Google: prove that the ruling violated US law and they'd be able to walk it back.

      • by j-beda ( 85386 )

        My understanding is that in their ruling, the Canadian Supreme Court basically pointed out that while it was possible that their decision would violate laws in other countries, nobody hadn't presented any arguments or evidence to that effect.

        In other words, they specifically left it open as an "out" for Google: prove that the ruling violated US law and they'd be able to walk it back.

        I had not seen that. The Fortune article that is linked through the last Slashdot discussion doesn't mention that in my reading. I would be interested in a reference if you have one.

        http://fortune.com/2017/06/28/... [fortune.com]

        I did notice this, which doesn't seem too unreasonable:

        “This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression

        • by c ( 8461 )

          I would be interested in a reference if you have one.

          It's right there in the decision itself [canlii.org]...

          [46] 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. To date, Google has made no such application.

          [47] In the absence of an evidentiary foundation, and given Googleâ(TM)s right to s

          • by j-beda ( 85386 )

            I would be interested in a reference if you have one.

            It's right there in the decision itself [canlii.org]...

            [46] 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. To date, Google has made no such application.

            [47] In the absence of an evidentiary foundation, and given Googleâ(TM)s right to seek a rectifying order, it hardly seems equitable to deny Equustek the extraterritorial scope it needs to make the remedy effective, or even to put the onus on it to demonstrate, country by country, where such an order is legally permissible. We are dealing with the Internet after all, and the balance of convenience test has to take full account of its inevitable extraterritorial reach when injunctive relief is being sought against an entity like Google.

            Granted, IANAL, but I can't really see any other interpretation than "get a decision from another country saying this is a problem and get back to us".

            Thanks, that is informative. Does the US decision indicate that following the ban would "require it [Google] to violate the laws of another jurisdiction"? The US law that is cited in the article (the First Amendment as well as "Section 230") do not "require" Google to publish things, so it could be argued that following the ban doesn't violate those laws in the US, even if imposing the ban does.

            That is probably a silly reading of the Canadian decision - even [47] references the idea of the order being "lega

            • by c ( 8461 )

              Does the US decision indicate that following the ban would "require it [Google] to violate the laws of another jurisdiction"?

              I haven't actually read more than a quick summary of the US decision, so I really can't speak to the details and how/if the court tries to align it with the Canadian decision.

              I'm mainly just pointing out that this new ruling was a logical and expected outcome rather than some sort of brutal US court smackdown that the press seems to have spun it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A US court can't override an order by the Canadian Supreme Court. If Google doesn't comply with the Canadian order, they're in violation of Canadian law, regardless of what the US says.

    • They are trying to get Google, in the US, to comply with a Canadian law. The US court is saying, no you don't have to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They are trying to get Google, in the US, to comply with a Canadian law. The US court is saying, no you don't have to.

        Yes, we got that. But the Canadian court ruling stands. To the extent that the Canadian Courts could enforce it before (e.g. by seizing Google owned assets in Canada), they still can. To the extent that they couldn't enforce it before (e.g. by seizing assets outside of their jurisdiction), they still can't. Nothing is changed by the US ruling. The statement that the Canadian ruling has been 'blocked' is simply wrong.

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        This ship has sailed, see my post about the DMCA. Or see many court cases where companies are being fined for bribery in foreign nations. The US in particular thinks it has global jurisdiction, no reason why it can't go both ways.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        note that the us ruling only stipulates that Google doesn't have to block those search results in the US, Google still has to block them in Canada regardless of the decision by the US courts.

        The problem is not the origin of Google, but the overreach of the Canadian courts. The Canadian courts are completely in their right to ask Google to block the search results in Canada, but to tell them to block those results in other nations is an excessive overstep in their jurisdiction. That being said, the Canadian

        • by davecb ( 6526 )
          Actually it was the EU that is the important place to block: the company who had stolen Equustek's technology seems to have fled to France, and was selling it in the EU.
    • I beg to differ. The Canadian government cannot override our bill of rights concerning free speech.

      Our constitution overrides treaty obligations [sweetliberty.org] which might obligate U.S. citizens to follow an external judgement which violates the bill of rights.

      If that was not the case, you'd have every banana republic forcing judgements on anyone in the U.S. they didn't like for any happenstance reason.

      Furthermore, this is one of the primary reasons we have a military that is larger than any to make sure that it remains

    • The right to swing your Canadian fist ends at the US' nose.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 03, 2017 @01:58PM (#55484889)

    I bet they apologized first, though.

  • If Gucci won a court injunction against a knockoff maker of handbags, then Google could still index the knockoff makers results, even though it harmed Gucci - because 'free speech'?

    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Try Googling any movie followed by download and scroll to the bottom of your search results.
    • It depends entirely on where Google is hosting that information and the jurisdiction of the court where the case was decided as well as any types of agreements that the U.S. government may have with that country.

      Free speech doesn't give a company carte blanche about what information they can post on their website. Child pornography is one example of content that is illegal just about everywhere. The problem arises entirely because different countries have different laws and the internet is globally acces
    • by davecb ( 6526 )
      Most places distinguish "commercial speech" (ie, ads) from real speech and have laws restricting it, so you can't advertise, for example, stolen goods.
  • Delete every search result which contains "Equustek" from the entire world without prejudice. Send the ball back into Equustek's court so that they have to expend the time and effort to file a lawsuit against the proper defendant - the company infringing their trademark. Once they've successfully sued the other company and it has stopped infringing their trademark, then they can send Google notice saying that it's it's safe to remove the block on "Equustek" from their search engine. Google's algorithms c
    • by Luthair ( 847766 )
      Sounds like contempt of court.
      • How is that contempt of court if they unlist both the quarreling parties?

    • by davecb ( 6526 )

      Equustek did sue the proper defendant, who fled the country and is doing business (apparently in France). Google initially asked for the suit to be filed and agreed the take down links to the other company's sites, and agreement which the courts understood to be worldwide Google then remove the links in Canada, and not France. The court isued a temporary restraining order to get Google to take the sites down until Equustek and/or interpol could find the crooks and have the local French courts enforce the

      • by davecb ( 6526 )
        slashdot needs a spell-checker for dislectic nerds (:-))
        s/and agreement/an agreement/
  • Honestly... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday November 03, 2017 @03:18PM (#55485443) Journal

    ...The idea that an American judge can block the ruling of a Canadian court in the context of the global actions of a company is no sillier than the idea that Canadian court coins have any jurisdiction on what happens outside their borders.

    Face it, the legal structures have a long way to go before they've internalized the modern internet.

  • That judge can't do a darned thing.

    Comply or leave. Those are your options.

  • they can forbid Google to take data gathered in Canada out of the country; maybe unless it has explicit consent of everyone who is referred to in the data. That sort of thing would cause Google (or any similar organisation) a lot of problems.

  • Under some strict Moslem sects, it's illegal for a woman to expose anything more than her eyes through the slit at the top of her burka. Now imagine if a Moslem country's court issues a worldwide injunction against all video or still images of women not wearing burkas. Female news anchors on every US TV network from Fox to MSNBC would be affected.

    images.google.com would be affected. Newspapers couldn't publish photos of "Women's March Against Trump". Female political candidates wouldn't be allowed to post p

  • Should've been obvious from start.

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