What should govern the behavior of huge multinationals like Google: the law Google makes for itself, or the laws that people make?
The former view has been dubbed cyber-libertarianism. In 2015, Canadian judges delivered that particular school of thought a blow, in the case of Equustek Solutions, a network equipment manufacturer in British Columbia, Canada.
The year before, Google was told by a Canadian court to remove search results that linked to knockoff versions of Equustek’s products. The web giant offered to strip the links from its Canadian site but that wasn’t enough for Equustek, which wanted them deleted worldwide.
The California internet giant eventually complied, removing scores of links worldwide, but was upset it had to remove the links globally, claiming this censorship had little effect on Equustek’s rivals. Google appealed in 2015, and lost.
In 2017, the internet goliath went to Canada’s Supreme Court to end the Earth-wide blackout, arguing the Canadian judgment clashed with free-speech protections in other nations. It lost again. The Supremes said it was purely theoretical that the removal of the links would trample on other countries’ laws. If a jurisdiction outside Canada is unhappy with the Canadian court’s decision then that jurisdiction should speak up so it can be considered by Canada’s Supremes, Google was told.
And so on Monday this week, Google asked a California court to decide whether or not the Canadian case’s outcome runs counter to America’s First Amendment. In effect, Google is asking US judges to reject their Canadian counterparts’ findings, allowing it to challenge the search result ban.