Class action lawsuit against YouTube for C19 censorship

Quebec court OKs class action lawsuit against YouTube for COVID-19 censorship

The Quebec Superior Court has greenlit a class-action lawsuit against YouTube for its censorship of content related to the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to LifeSiteNews, plaintiff Eloise Boies filed the lawsuit against the Google-owned video sharing platform. She accused it of censoring information about the vaccines, the pandemic and the virus itself. According to her, three of her videos – with one of them ironically discussing censorship – were taken down by YouTube for allegedly violating the platform’s policies about medical disinformation and contradicting the narratives of the World Health Organization and local health authorities about COVID-19. (Related: Canada to create a REGISTRY for podcast providers – the first step toward CENSORSHIP of all speech the government regime doesn’t like.)

Boies argued that YouTube’s censorship represented unlawful and intentional suppression of free expression. In February, she revealed that in addition to having videos deleted, the censorship also branded her an “antivaxxer” and a “conspiracy theorist” – causing her to lose contracts.

The YouTuber also argued that YouTube violated freedom of expression guaranteed under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (QCHRF) with its censorship. But YouTube’s parent Google countered that it is under no obligation to respect the QCHRF, and therefore it cannot be held accountable for decisions to censor content it doesn’t approve of.

Freedom of expression also extends to publication and creation

But when Quebec Superior Court Judge Lukasz Granosik announced his decision, he noted that freedom of expression “does not only mean freedom of speech, but also freedom of publication and freedom of creation.”

Stressing the importance that Canada’s Supreme Court assigns to guaranteed freedom of expression as a key building block in a democratic society, the judge concluded: “If (Google) carries out censorship by preventing certain people from posting videos and prevents other people from viewing these same videos, it thus hinders the free circulation of ideas and exposes itself to having to defend its ways of doing things.”

The Mountain View, California-based tech company was ordered to stop censoring content, pay $1,000 in compensation and $1,000 in punitive damages to each of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, as well as “additional compensation provided for by law since the filing of the request for authorization to take collective action, as per the court’s decision.”

In a related development, the Superior Court judge authorized a class-action lawsuit alleging Facebook content moderation policies during the (COVID-19) pandemic violated Quebecers’ freedom of expression.

The suit against Meta Platforms, which owns Facebook, was brought by Christian Leray, an administrator of the Facebook group for an organization called Reinfo Quebec, which criticized COVID-19 public health measures and had posts deleted because the social media platform said they contained misinformation about vaccines.

In his decision late last month, Granosik wrote that given the role Facebook plays in society, it has to take some responsibility for the control it exercises over the content that appears on its platform.

If Facebook “carries out censorship, prevents certain people from posting certain information, sanctions them by restricting access to their account and thus hinders the free circulation of ideas, it exposes itself to having to defend its methods,” he wrote. “Its decision may be well-founded and it may not incur any liability, but the question has been raised and it is clear that the plaintiff has a chance of success on the merits.”