Two dozen human rights and civil liberty groups have thrown their weight behind Google’s challenge of a Canadian court decision it warns could stifle freedom of expression around the world and lead to a diminished internet of the lowest common denominator .In an appeal heard on Tuesday in the supreme court of Canada , Google Inc took aim at a 2015 court decision that sought to censor search results beyond Canada’s borders.
In 2012, Canadian company Equustek won a judgment to have a company banned from selling a counterfeit version of Equustek’s product online. Google voluntarily removed more than 300 infringing URLs. But as more sites popped up, Equustek went back to court — this time seeking a worldwide ban. A court of appeal in British Columbia sided with Equustek in 2015, ordering Google to remove all of its search results linked to the company. It is this ruling that Google is now appealing.
The human rights groups are focusing on the question at the heart of the precedent-setting case: if one country can control what you see on the internet, what is to prevent other countries from doing the same? Gregg Leslie of Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said:
It’s a worrisome trend, where we see individual countries trying to regulate the internet worldwide. And of course the consequences of that would mean that even countries like Russia and China could do the same thing and that will really affect the content available on the internet.