In the landmark ruling in Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González (case no. C-131/12, May 13, 2014), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recognized that search engines are controllers of the personal information they process and have the obligation, in appropriate cases, to de-list links to personal information in their search results. A recent decision in Mosley v Google Inc & Anor  EWHC 59 (QB) (15 January 2015) has recognized that a right to get a blocking order against a search engine might also exist in the United Kingdom under the UK Data Protection Act 1998. The case also illustrates the challenges individuals have in vindicating their privacy interests in the Internet context.
Posts Tagged ‘blocking orders’
Blocking orders against web sites and services that engage in or enable copyright infringement are common in the European Union. BitTorrent sites like The Pirate Bay are a frequent target of such orders. See, Keeping The Pirate Bays at Bay: using blocking orders to curtail infringements; Blocking orders against ISPs legal in the EU: UPC Telekabel Wien.
In an important decision rendered on June 13, 2014, a Canadian court ordered Google to block a website that was selling goods that violated the trade secrets of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs obtained a default judgment against the defendants. But, the defendants continued to sell the offending goods over the Internet. The plaintiffs, unable to enforce their judgment, asked for Google’s help in blocking the website. Google voluntarily de-indexed specific URL’s requested by the plaintiffs, but this “whac-a-mole” process was ineffective. When Google refused to de-index the offending websites from its search results, the plaintiffs brought a motion against Google for interim relief requiring Google to de-index the websites. Over Google’s objections, in Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack 2014 BCSC 1063, Madam Justice Fenlon of the British Columbia Supreme Court granted the injunction.
European courts have ordered ISPs to block access to pirate file sharing sites in other countries for years. The jurisdiction for doing so is Article 8(3) of the EU Copyright Directive (Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001) which is transposed into the laws of EU Member States. The courts have considered these orders to represent a reasonable balance between the interests of copyright holders, intermediaries, and end users. See, Keeping The Pirate Bays at Bay.
The England High Court recently made an order requiring ISPs to block two linking websites located at www.solarmovie.so (“SolarMovie”) and www.tubeplus.me (“TubePlus”). In doing so, the court in Paramount Home Entertainment International Ltd & Ors v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd & Ors  EWHC 3479 (Ch) (13 November 2013) ruled that the sites, which did not themselves host any content, were nevertheless liable for infringement because they facilitated streaming of content to users by hosting and organizing hyperlinks to the content without consent of copyright owners.
The nature of the sites in issue (the “Websites”) were describe by Justice Arnold as follows:
On September 26, 2011, the Antwerp Court of Appeal ordered two Belgium ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. The ISPs, Telenet and Belgacom, were ordered to implement DNS blocking on 11 domains to do this.
The legal basis for the order was Article art. 87, §1, al.2 of the Belgian Copyright Act. This provision transposes Article 8(3) of the EU InfoSoc Directive 2001/29/CE. This Article provides that
“Member States shall ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right.”