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Noah Feldman

For a More Regulated Internet, Thank Canada

The U.S. does little to control online content, but companies may be forced to change anyway.
These guys are going to defend the internet?

These guys are going to defend the internet?

Photographer: Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Does Canada own the internet? The question may sound like a joke, but it’s the serious challenge presented by a Canadian Supreme Court decision issued last week. The court ordered Google to deindex search results that were letting one side of a lawsuit violate the intellectual property rights of the other -- not just in Canada, but worldwide.

The court tried to avoid the difficult free-speech issues by saying those weren’t involved in the case. But what makes the precedent so important is that it raises the core problem of who gets to regulate the internet by ordering around search companies and social media. The U.S. Supreme Court recently clarified that it thinks the First Amendment mostly blocks the U.S. government from such regulation. That leaves other governments like Canada -- or Germany, which on Friday enacted legislation that forces social media entities to remove unwanted content.