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Canada’s Supreme Court has Google Block Search Results Worldwide

Google has been ordered by Canada’s Supreme Court in a British Columbia court ruling to delist entire domains and websites from its global search index. The 7-2 ruling addresses the actions required in the Google v. Equustek, which was Google being requested to take down search engine results in Canada leading to domains and websites belonging to Datalink Technology Gateways. Google has now been ordered to add the same restrictions, but applicable to their worldwide search engines results, and not just those in Canada.

In Google v. Equustek, British Columbia-based technology company Equustek Solutions accused Datalink of relabeling one of Equustek’s products and selling it online as one of their own products. Equustek further accused Datalink of acquiring trade secrets in order to create a similar competing product. The business ethical issues that stealing another company’s product as your own had clearly been violated.

Considering that they never appeared in the court ruling, how does Google play into this situation between two separate companies? Google voluntarily agreed after being requested by Equustek to remove Datalink search engine results, delisting over 300 websites associated with Datalink. However, these websites were only delisted on the Canadian version of the search engine, meaning that they were still accessible everywhere else in the world.

Considering this, the Supreme Court of British Columbia granted a more encompassing injunction ordering Google to stop displaying search engine results globally for any Datalink websites. Google responded by appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing that the right to freedom of expression should prevent an order restricting global search engine results.

Regarding freedom of speech, there a few consideration regarding Google’s actions. While Google certainly has the right to display the search results of any websites or domains, the individuals or companies associated with their respective websites must not violate others through the unlawful sale of goods. Google acted that the unlawful sales of goods were occurring in Canada, and therefore volunteered to delist the relevant websites. However, considering the nature of the internet, restriction in Canada does not equate to dealing with the unlawful sale of goods. Datalink was able to sell another company’s products internationally.

While it is suggested that the Supreme Court of Canada is issuing an injunction outside their jurisdiction by overruling the conduct of Google that is legal in other countries, this is not, in fact, the case. Instead, the Canadian Supreme Court is only issuing an injunction to the activities of Google pertaining to its relationship with the dispute between Equustek and Datalink. While the effects may be global, this in no way means that the Supreme Court of Canada is overexerting their power.

This ruling has received much praise as it is a step in the direction of countering common unethical behavior affecting companies that use the internet as their primary market. The protection the ruling grants helps prevent illegal online activity and may see some results remedying careers and investments that have been victim to such illegal activity.

There may be unintended repercussions that could significantly limit Google and its activities. Having to obey rulings that directly influence your global market despite pertaining to local cases can lead to many countries exercising a similar ruling. However, Google has not experienced the effects that illegal online activity concerning third party companies can have on its own practices. Google will need to monitor and preemptively delist companies engaging in illegal activities, otherwise it will be facing similar hits that will not only limit its freedom but also hurt its reputation, resulting in further damaging consequences.

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