Supreme Court upholds worldwide order directing Google to block content

‘The Internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global’

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld a ruling that ordered popular search engine Google to wipe out references to a discredited company.

The high court’s 7-2 decision today recognizes that Canadian courts have jurisdiction to make sweeping orders to block access to content on the Internet beyond Canada’s borders.

Google was challenging a 2015 ruling by the British Columbia Court of Appeal that ordered it to stop indexing or referencing websites associated with a company called Datalink Technologies Gateways.

The B.C. appeal court granted the injunction at the request of Equustek Solutions Inc., which won a judgment against Datalink for allegedly stealing, copying and reselling industrial network interface hardware it created.

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.

Google fought back against the “worldwide order,” arguing that Canadian courts don’t have legal authority to impose such an injunction.

Its written argument to the Supreme Court called the injunction “an improper and unprecedented extension of Canadian jurisprudence.”

In today’s decision, Justice Rosalie Abella says the only way to ensure that the injunction met its objective was to have the order apply where Google operates — all over the world.

“The problem in this case is occurring online and globally,” she writes on behalf of the high court’s majority.

“The Internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global.”

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