Google and Facebook ordered to 'de-list' websites

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A federal judge in Nevada has ruled that Chanel can seize the domain names of hundreds of websites selling counterfeit goods - and has ordered internet search engines and social media networks to de-index them.

The domain names will be transferred to domain registrar GoDaddy, and all pages redirected to a notice of the seizure. None of the site owners is allowed to contest the seizure until after it's taken place.

According to Ars Technica, the investigation of the sites in question was one-sided, to say the least. Chanel simply hired an investigator to order products from three of the 228 sites in one particular batch - who ruled that they were counterfeit. The other 225 were ruled to be selling counterfeit goods on the basis of a bit of web browsing alone.

Just as bizarrely, the judge has ordered that Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ 'de-index' all the sites.

It doesn't say how they're supposed to do that, although social networks, in particular, will be scratching their heads. And the ruling appears to disregard the fact that many of the domain names are registered outside the US

"Some of the court's relief is directed at a variety of entities that are not parties to the dispute (including the registrars, the registry, Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc)," says Seattle-based tech lawyer Venkat Balasubramani.

"I'm not sure how this court can direct a registry to change a domain name's registrar of record or Google to de-list a site, but the court does so anyway. This is probably the most problematic aspect of the court's orders."