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IPFS News Link • Free Speech

No Country Should be Making Speech Rules for the World

•, By Corynne McSherry

Any other approach invites a swift relay race to the bottom for online expression, giving governments and courts in countries with the weakest speech protections carte blanche to edit the internet.

Unfortunately, governments, including democracies that care about the rule of law, too often lose sight of this simple proposition. That's why EFF, represented by Johnson Winter Slattery, has moved to intervene in support of X', formerly known as Twitter's legal challenge to a global takedown order from Australia's eSafety Commissioner. The Commissioner ordered X and Meta to take down a post with a video of a stabbing in a church. X complied by geo-blocking the post so Australian users couldn't access it, but it declined to block it elsewhere. The Commissioner asked an Australian court to order a global takedown.

Our intervention calls the court's attention to the important public interests at stake in this litigation, particularly for internet users who are not parties to the case but will nonetheless be affected by the precedent it sets. A ruling against X is effectively a declaration that an Australian court (or its eSafety Commissioner) can prevent internet users around the world from accessing something online, even if the law in their own country is quite different. In the United States, for example, the First Amendment guarantees that platforms generally have the right to decide what content they will host, and their users have a corollary right to receive it. 

We've seen this movie before. In Google v Equustek, a company used a trade secret claim to persuade a Canadian court to order Google to delete search results linking to sites that contained allegedly infringing goods from and all other Google domains, including and Google appealed, but both the British Columbia Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the order. The following year, a U.S. court held the ruling couldn't be enforced against Google US. 

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