Yahoo! says the decision by a French court ordering it to block French citizens from accessing a US-based online Nazi memorabilia auction could become a test case determining who has authority over global Internet content.
Yahoo! has been given 90 days to introduce a keyword-based filtering system to prevent French citizens from accessing the page. The sale of Nazi memorabilia is banned in France.
The company is free to appeal in the French courts to have the order modified or thrown out. But Yahoo! also claims the plaintiffs – the Paris-based International League Against Racism & Anti-Semitism and the Union of French Jewish Students – can now ask courts in the US to enforce the ruling in other markets.
A spokeswoman for Yahoo! says: “Given the serious implications of the case for jurisdiction in cyberspace, we don’t believe the US courts would agree to enforce the French order.”
Other online auctioneers could be affected by the ruling. A spokeswoman for pan-European auction site QXL.com says it is reviewing its technological procedures to remove “illegal items” from its sites in certain markets.
A spokeswoman for eBay adds: “We have technology in place that prevents searching for and viewing of certain items based on country-specific browser settings.
“We will continue to work with private and public interest groups to improve technologies to prevent users from having access to items deemed illegal.”