The Canadian Supreme Court ordered Google to remove a group of websites from its worldwide search results in a landmark decision that could have far-reaching consequences for the internet giant, the Globe and Mail reported.
The court case involved a dispute between two Canadian technology companies, Equustek Solutions Inc. and Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc. Equustek had accused Datalink of stealing its trade secrets and asked Google to remove them from its search index.
And on Wednesday, the court voted 7-2 to uphold two lower court orders for Google to drop Datalink.
A Google spokeswoman said that the company would abide by the order.
Human rights and free speech groups were dismayed by the decision.
“Other countries may soon follow this example, in ways that more obviously force Google to become the world’s censor,” Dinah PoKempner, general counsel of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “If every country tries to enforce its own idea of what is proper to put on the Internet globally, we will soon have a race to the bottom where human rights will be the loser.”
Abella argued that she didn’t see the decision as infringing on free speech, noting that Google currently leaves out websites containing illicit material from its search index.
“This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders,” Abella wrote. “We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods.”