Canada’s Top Court Rules That Injunctions Concerning the Web Can Have Global Effect

Leah Schnurr, Reuters:

Canadian courts can force internet search leader Google to remove results worldwide, the country’s top court ruled on Wednesday, drawing criticism from civil liberties groups arguing such a move sets a precedent for censorship on the internet.

In its 7-2 decision, Canada’s Supreme Court found that a court in the country can grant an injunction preventing conduct anywhere in the world when it is necessary to ensure the injunction’s effectiveness.

“The internet has no borders – its natural habitat is global,” the Supreme Court wrote in its judgment. “The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates – globally.”

This seems like a grave overreach of a single court’s powers with a dangerous precedent. If a less-friendly country did anything like this, it would immediately be seen as a global threat.

I recognize that I’m posting this in the wake of defending the E.U.’s decision to fine Google €2.4 billion for anticompetitive behaviour — a decision that will likely have global consequences. But that was a single finding around a single case, and it doesn’t outright state that Google must change their global practices to comply.