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Germany tells Google to brush up auto-complete

Should remove anything defamatory
Wed May 15 2013, 17:10
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INTERNET SEARCH FIRM Google has been told off in Germany, which said that it must clean up the auto-complete selections that it offers.

Google does occasionally throw up some odd suggestions in its auto-complete selections, and its attempts to predict what people are looking for can be mixed.

This hasn't gone down very well in Germany, and regulators there are doing something about it. They have told Google that it must make a greater effort not to offend or defame people.

The German federal court in Karlsruhe has released its decision on the case. It was in German, we have run it through Google's translator.

It said that there were two complainants. One was an unnamed German who took issue with what Google said when you searched for things relating to "fraud" and "Scientology", the other was a public company that sells nutritional supplements and cosmetics on the internet and is run by the same man.

The court decided that a word association could be considered to be defamation.

"The search word completion suggestions 'Scientology' and 'fraud' when you enter the first and last names of the plaintiff to [two] in the internet search engine the defendants include an impairment of personal rights of the plaintiff, because they posses an comprehensible statement content, between the plaintiff to [two] and the negative occupied terms 'Scientology' and / or 'fraud'," it said, and as we noted, we have had to translate it from the original German.

"The plaintiff would thereby violated their right to privacy, if this statement - as they have stated - would be untrue and therefore in consideration of their constitutionally protected position."

The decision means that Google will have to apply a scalpel to its auto-complete suggestions if and when someone brings a complaint to its attention.

A Google spokesperson said, "We are disappointed with the decision from the German Supreme Court. We believe that Google should not be held liable for terms that appear in Autocomplete as these are predicted by computer algorithms based on searches from previous users, not by Google itself. We are waiting for the written grounds to review the decision in detail."

The ruling overturns two earlier decisions by lower German courts. µ


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