Google’s search engine will be subjected to Canada’s privacy laws, the Federal Court of Appeal stated in a recent decision.
The tech giant argued Google Search shouldn’t be part of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), a law that focuses on data privacy, because its services would fall under an exemption applied to journalistic purposes.
The company first presented its case in July 2021 and was dismissed by Federal Court Judge Jocelyne Gagné. Google appealed the decision.
The case involves an unnamed man who said Google searches of his name revealed “outdated, inaccurate, and sensitive information.” The man says the availability of this information exposed him to harm, including employment discrimination and social stigma.
The man approached Google to remove the information, but the company declined, telling him to contact the website owner directly.
Google’s appeal was denied 2-1. In his reasoning of denial, Justice John Laskin said the search engine shares content results determined by algorithms Google maintains. “In carrying out that purpose, Google is agnostic as to the nature of that content: nothing turns on whether or not it is journalistic, let alone on whether it meets certain aspirational standards of journalism,” Laskin wrote.
“Even if the search happens to return snippets that contain links to journalistic content, that cannot be said to be its purpose when Google is indifferent to whether or not it does so. At a minimum, that cannot be said to be its sole purpose.”
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Source: Federal Court of Appeal