A CANADIAN COURT has ordered Google to put up a website block that applies to all of its data centres everywhere and effectively is global censorship.
This is an unprecedented ruling, which the Globe and Mail reported was handed down by British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Lauri Ann Fenton.
Justice Fenton made the ruling at the end of last week in a case involving Google, ordering the internet search giant to remove search result links from the internet within two weeks.
The information relates to local company Equustek Solutions and a rival. It also sounds a lot like the "right to be forgotten" doctrine in Europe, and could have similar ramifications.
Google has not yet responded to a request for comment, but it told the Globe that it was disappointed by the court's decision.
The ruling said that Google, being global, should be in a position to remove any information that someone wants it to remove. Though the judge admitted that Google is not responsible, she does expect it to act.
"The Court must adapt to the reality of e-commerce with its potential for abuse by those who would take the property of others and sell it through the borderless electronic web of the internet," she wrote.
"I conclude that an interim injunction should be granted compelling Google to block the defendants' websites from Google's search results worldwide. That order is necessary to preserve the Court's process and to ensure that the defendants cannot continue to flout the Court's orders... Within 14 days of the date of this judgment, Google Inc. is to cease indexing or referencing in search results on its internet search engines the websites."
Writing on his blog, University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist said that the impact of the decision could be "enormous".
"The implications are enormous since if a Canadian court has the power to limit access to information for the globe, presumably other courts would as well," he wrote.
"While the court does not grapple with this possibility, what happens if a Russian court orders Google to remove gay and lesbian sites from its database? Or if Iran orders it remove Israeli sites from the database? The possibilities are endless since local rules of freedom of expression often differ from country to country." µ