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Archive for September, 2012

15
Sep

Google’s Autocomplete causing big problems

More trouble for Google in Europe: The Monster of Mountain View is being sued by the spouse of a former German leader who is upset that the search giant’s autocomplete feature suggests demeaning terms like prostitute and escort when her name is typed in. She’s going to court demanding that Google do something about this, and it’s possible she just might win.

Despite Google’s past court victories, this case isn’t necessarily clear-cut, says Thomas Nuthmann, a lawyer at German law firm JBB Rechtsanwaelte. “Under German law, it’s likely that, at the very least, once Google knows that its autocorrect is generating results that present Frau Wulff in a bad light, they become responsible for making changes in her specific case,” he says, adding that, in Germany, famous people have the same protection against defamation as regular people when it comes to their private lives (unless they purposely make their private lives public). “It doesn’t mean [Google has] to shut down its technology altogether—just that it would have to at least disable the results linking words like ‘prostitute’ and ‘Bettina Wulff.’”

It;s unlikely such a lawsuit would ever be filed against Google in the United States. But of course, European law is different. If Google wishes to operate in Europe, it must abide by European law.