A California judge is putting a halt to a Canadian court order for internet giant Google to delist some of its search results worldwide.
It says Canada’s top court overstepped its bounds and the right to free speech online.
In June, the Supreme Court upheld a 2015 B.C. court ruling that ordered the popular search engine to wipe out references to a former distributor accused of stealing trade secrets from a small British Columbia company.
Google unsuccessfully argued before Canada’s high court that Canadian courts didn’t have legal authority to impose such an injunction.
About one month after the Supreme Court decision, Google turned to the courts in California to squash the order, arguing it couldn’t be enforced in the United States because it violated sweeping free speech rights under the First Amendment, and federal legislation that granted internet services like Google immunity from listing content created by third parties.
A U.S. district court judge in California agreed, saying that Datalink Technologies Gateways provided the information at issue for Burnaby-based Equustek Solutions Inc.; Google merely provides links to websites and “short snippets of their contents.”
Judge Edward J. Davila wrote in his ruling that the Canadian court order to force companies like Google to remove links to third-party materials “threatens free speech on the global internet.”
Equustek Solutions Inc. didn’t file any papers to oppose Google’s motion. The ruling says the Canadian company called the motion “unnecessary and unfair.”
Equustek Solutions Inc. had been locked in battle with Datalink Technologies Gateways — its former distributor — for allegedly stealing, copying and reselling industrial network interface hardware Equustek had created. The Burnaby-based Equustek wanted to stop Datalink from selling the hardware through various websites and turned to Google for help.
Initially, Google removed more than 300 web pages from search results on Google.ca, but more kept popping up, so Equustek sought — and won — the broader injunction that ordered Google to impose a worldwide ban.
The B.C. court noted that Google controlled as much as 75 per cent of the global searches on the Internet and that Datalink’s ability to sell its counterfeit product was, in large part, tied to customers being able to find its websites through Google.
The Canadian Press