Google Must Remove a Search Result Globally, Canada Court Rules

By Jack Nicas Features Dow Jones Newswires

Canada's top court ruled that Google can be forced to remove search results globally, adding to the constraints governments and courts are exerting over tech giants as those companies' influence grows.

Continue Reading Below

The Supreme Court of Canada on Wednesday upheld a lower court's ruling that Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., must remove from its search results websites belonging to a Canadian company that was illegally selling technology of another firm.

On Wednesday the company said it was reviewing the Canadian court's decision and evaluating its next steps.

A similar issue is being examined in France, where France's privacy regulator is fighting Google over its implementation of Europe's "right to be forgotten." That rule enables European residents to force search engines to remove links from searches for their own names, if the information is old, irrelevant or infringes on their privacy. Google has complied with the rule in Europe, but has resisted removing links from its search results world-wide.

Japan's Supreme Court ruled in favor of Google earlier this year that individuals there couldn't force the company to remove search results.

As Google has become the world's go-to source for information, the company has battled with privacy groups, regulators and government authorities over its search results. Google has argued its search results are determined by algorithms and are a matter of free speech, and it has resisted attempts to censor results.

Continue Reading Below

Google on Tuesday was fined a record $2.7 billion by the European Union's antitrust regulator for what it alleged was Google's use of its search engine to favor its own comparison-shopping service.

Free-speech advocates criticized the Canadian decision, saying it could encourage censorship. "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."

Write to Jack Nicas at jack.nicas@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 28, 2017 21:05 ET (01:05 GMT)