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Court Issues Canada's First-Ever Order to Blacklist a Website

Publish: 27.11.2019

A court in Canada has recently made a historic decision to blacklist a domain for the first time in the country’s history. 

Last week, a federal judge issued a domain-blocking order as a response to a request made by a group of domestic broadcasters and internet service providers (ISPs).

Court Issues Canada's First-Ever Order to Blacklist a Website

Blocking a Pirate Operator

The court’s ruling will block several websites operated by GoldTV, a pirate IPTV service that had been offering a huge number of TV channels over the internet for a nominal fee. According to the ruling made by Justice Patrick Gleeson, Canadian ISPs will have a maximum of 15 days to block all domains and subdomains operated by GoldTV, as well as all its IP addresses. 

Only one IPS was against making such a decision. Explaining its decision, Teksavvy Solutions from Ontario stated it had been concerned over the costs of the court rulings, which ISPs themselves would bear. 

Teksavvy Solutions also believe the decision will open a pandora box, with new blocking requests likely to come in the near future. According to the company, site-blocking will eventually prove ineffective, especially as it represents an attempt to by-pass the authority of the country’s elected officials. Back in 2012, federal lawmakers decided not to add site blocking in the then adopted Copyright Act. 

To fully understand the impact this decision could have, we need to go back to July of 2018, when Quebec Superior Court put an end to the efforts made by the provincial authorities to block foreign-based online gambling operators. By doing this, the government wanted to shut down operators competing with Espacejexu, the site operated by the provincial Crown Corporation Loto-Quebec.

The court ruled that Quebec’s Bill 74 had no right to allow domain-blocking, as such as measure was a responsibility of another federal agency, namely the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Can We Expect Similar Rulings in the Future?

 Back to Gleeson’s ruling. The Justice pointed out there were no legal objections to the decision that had been made and added his ruling had been made strictly in accordance with the country’s regulatory regime.

 According to him, it was evident that plaintiffs would continue to suffer harm if the operator was allowed to continue its business in Canada. And although there were those saying the decision could be viewed as censorship, Gleeson rejected such claims.

The ruling represents a response to claims of copyright infringement, but – as we’ve already pointed out – it could encourage some of the provincial gambling monopolies to take a shot at their competition, to block them from offering their services to players in Canada. Such attempts could be regarded as censorship, though, as they can deny Canadian citizens the freedom of choosing how and where they will gamble.

Although an order like this one hasn’t been issued in Canada until now, a similar was issued across the Atlantic, in the UK, where ISPs were ordered to blacklist several websites that were offering cheap copies of expensive watches.

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