What do you think will happen when the foreign governments deem something on the internet is hate speech, or when China decides that information about the Christian religion is not permissible? What happens is that we lose big time. Instead of the wide-open global marketplace of ideas that the Internet is supposed to be, it will include only that information which gets past the most virulent of tyrants as well as the most easily offended snowflake social justice warriors. And the truth is, as evidenced by the big tech companies’ war on “fake news,” “hate speech,” and “inappropriate content,” we have enough of a battle on our hands keeping the Internet free of censorship domestically, without the intervention of every government in the world.
But it seems the trail has been blazed toward these ends.
In an inevitable and foreseeable result of globalist tomfoolery, Canada’s Supreme Court presented the world with a portent of things to come. In a 7-2 decision — with a straight face no less — it has claimed the authority to force Internet search providers to censor results worldwide. And they are not the first, nor will they be the last government to do so.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit between Equustek Solutions Inc. and one of its distributors, Datalink. Equustek sued, claiming that Datalink was cheating them by renaming one of Equustek’s products and selling it as their own, and by using Equustek’s trade secrets to build and sell a competing product. Datalink moved to an unknown location and kept selling the product.
Equustek then asked Google to remove from internet search results Datalink’s websites. Google responded by requesting a court order. A long and winding legal battle the likes of which you are unlikely to be interested in ensued. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Google saying, “The internet has no borders – its natural habitat is global,” and “The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates – globally.”
One of the fundamentals of Western law is the concept of jurisdiction. Courts have jurisdiction over parties and property based on several theories, including physical presence and stream of trade. Here, because Google operates a Canadian website, it was entirely reasonable that Canadian courts enjoin Google from displaying results to Canadian citizens. But in this case, Canadian courts aren’t just demanding that they have jurisdiction over Google’s Canadian operation, or even over what all Canadian citizens get to view, but over what Google shows to people anywhere in the world. And now Google has no choice but to comply or suffer the consequences of non-compliance, which could be substantial.
You might think this insane, and you would be correct, but Canada isn’t the first foreign government to claim that it can regulate what you are permitted to see. As reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), France has recently declared that it’s “Right to Be Forgotten” law must apply to search results globally. And various governments and corporations have been negotiating “shadow regulations” in which businesses limit public access to data under private agreement. A recent example is EU authorities imposing a “code of conduct” on social media companies requiring them to include in their worldwide terms of service that they will remove what the EU views as “hate speech.”
The Internet is an American invention. We were right to share the benefits of this technology with the world because everyone wins when every idea gets heard. But it is a colossal mistake for the U.S. to allow its largest information providers to subject themselves to the whims of foreign governments. Every time our tech giants seek to do business in a foreign jurisdiction, they create a lever by which that government can impose its will on the United States and her citizens.
Simply put, you can no longer trust big multinational social media providers to provide you with the complete picture, and it will get worse as more cooks from around the world invade Silicon Valley kitchens. Americans must seek and create new alternative media sources which refuse to censor content based on subjective opinion, and refuse to subject themselves to the authority of foreign governments. Liberty requires completely free speech, even when it is wrong or offensive. There are precious few options available at the moment, including Gab and Voat. Support them and any other new sites you can find. Your first freedoms may depend on it.