Delineating the reach of internet intermediaries' content blocking-"ccTLD blocking", Strict Geo-location blocking: or a "country lens approach"?
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There is a prominent trend of legal actions being taken against globally active Internet intermediaries. This article discusses the extent to which Internet intermediaries should be required to block or remove third-party content, and places emphasis on the geographical limitations that reasonably may be placed on such blocking/removal. Where an Internet intermediary is ordered to block or remove certain Internet content, global blocking/removal cannot be the default response to every such order. We need a more measured and more sophisticated approach. This paper canvasses and analyses three such structures. One option is to delineate the reach of the blocking/removal by reference to country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs) – “ccTLD-blocking”. For example, where a French court requests that Google blocks/removes content in France, Google may do so in relation to www.google.fr, while the relevant content is unmodified for the rest of the world. Yet, it is also necessary to look beyond ccTLD-blocking. Geo-location technologies may determine an Internet user‟s geographical location, for example, by reference to the user‟s IP address. Such technologies can, of course, be used to delineate the accessibility of Internet content. Indeed, such technologies can be used in various ways to achieve such a result and I will consider both a “strict geo-location blocking” and a more nuanced “country lens” approach. To prepare ground for that discussion, the article first starts with a few appropriate words about the role Internet intermediaries play and why litigants target Internet intermediaries in the first place.
This document has been peer reviewed.