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Google, Eric Schmidt Convicted of Defamation Because of 'Suggestions' in Search

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 79 comments

Google and company CEO Eric Schmidt have been convicted of defamation in France.

If you're a Google user, you are more than likely familiar with the company's Suggest feature, which shows you a list of possible searches related to the keywords you've entered into the search bar. Though it seems obvious that this feature is automated and operates by displaying the most common searches related to what you've searched for, a French court has convicted Google of defamation after a user complained that his name had been associated with the terms 'rapist' and 'Satanist'.

The Telegraph reports that the user, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of "corruption of a minor" and sentenced to three years in jail earlier this year. The man appealed the court's decision but discovered that Google Suggest had linked his name to undesirable terms, including 'rapist' and 'Satanist'. French law dictates that a person is innocent until all appeals have been exhausted.

As a result Google has been ordered to pay symbolic damages of one euro plus €5,000 in legal fees after the Superior Court of Paris found the search giant guilty of "public slandering of a private individual." Google has said it will appeal the court's decision, which also stated that the Mountain View company must take preventative measures to ensure the same thing does not happen again, and remove "harmful" suggestions.

A Google spokesperson clarified that these suggestions are not from Google but based on searches performed by other users.

"These searches are algorithmically determined based on a number of purely objective factors including (the) popularity of search terms," she told the Telegraph. "Google does not suggest these terms. All of the queries shown in Autocomplete have been typed previously by other Google users."

Source: The Telegraph

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  • 29 Hide
    UbeRveLT , September 27, 2010 10:15 PM
    Another stab at suing just to get money. Tsk tsk.

    Least he only got 1 euro! HA.
  • 28 Hide
    plznote , September 27, 2010 10:10 PM
    More stupid people!
  • 28 Hide
    plznote , September 27, 2010 10:11 PM
    Lolz 1 euro
Other Comments
  • 28 Hide
    plznote , September 27, 2010 10:10 PM
    More stupid people!
  • 28 Hide
    plznote , September 27, 2010 10:11 PM
    Lolz 1 euro
  • 21 Hide
    alexttlyrocks , September 27, 2010 10:14 PM
    wow, where does it ever stop
  • 29 Hide
    UbeRveLT , September 27, 2010 10:15 PM
    Another stab at suing just to get money. Tsk tsk.

    Least he only got 1 euro! HA.
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , September 27, 2010 10:18 PM
    What did you expect of the horribly liberal bench in France. They have the US Federal Court System beat any day when it comes to idiotic, and really dumb decision in their courts. I mean really, do you really believe the Google team, and specifically CEO Schmidt spent any time at all on creaming up suggestions to search strings! Google is a behemoth in size, no question, but it would need to be dozens of times larger to take such action. But, in their eagerness to "show up" the Americans the French outdid even themselves in this really ludicrous decision.
  • 26 Hide
    visa , September 27, 2010 10:22 PM
    When I started reading this I thought it was going to be in reference to the whole "French military victories" suggesting "French military defeats"...
  • 14 Hide
    cj_online , September 27, 2010 10:25 PM
    Seriously? Are you kidding me? This is undeniably absurd.
  • 10 Hide
    borisof007 , September 27, 2010 10:26 PM
    Awesome, all that money spent for 1 Euro. Really breakin the bank there.
  • 0 Hide
    Strider-Hiryu_79 , September 27, 2010 10:39 PM
    Hrm.... what if you search for and add other search word criteria/tags beside it like and if enough people search for that it becomes part of google suggest. Can those porn actresses sue too?

    LOL it would suck to be on the receiving end of google suggest.

    Seriously though I'm sure many people love the google suggest search suggestions appearing while they search for anything and everything they want on google or any other search site that uses a similar feature.
  • 0 Hide
    Strider-Hiryu_79 , September 27, 2010 10:41 PM
    Sorry I forgot about the tags. What I meant to say was what if your search looked like this

    "[insert desired porn actress here] + [insert desired derogatory adjective here]"

    Seriously I hope people don't go "let's sue" crazy after this article.
  • 14 Hide
    drwho1 , September 27, 2010 10:50 PM
    uberveltAnother stab at suing just to get money. Tsk tsk.Least he only got 1 euro! HA.

    Better! a Symbolic 1 Euro!
  • -2 Hide
    danimal_the_animal , September 27, 2010 11:05 PM
    I would like to join in on the class action suit.

    Where do i sign up?
  • 0 Hide
    Darkv1 , September 27, 2010 11:07 PM
    visaWhen I started reading this I thought it was going to be in reference to the whole "French military victories" suggesting "French military defeats"...

    That was the first thing that came to my mind as well.
  • 0 Hide
    braneman , September 27, 2010 11:32 PM
    since you have to type the starts of these words to get them, the offense is largely self committed. its like suing a chainsaw company because you decided to cut your arm off.
  • 0 Hide
    Eggrenade , September 27, 2010 11:40 PM
    If Google did start censoring search queries they would probably have an ACLU lawsuit on their hands, and that would cost more than 5000 Euros in legal fees.
  • 11 Hide
    tuch92 , September 27, 2010 11:42 PM
    So what does a rapist/Satanist do with one euro?
  • 4 Hide
    rohitbaran , September 27, 2010 11:48 PM
    Well, after this event, that person's name is going to be searched even more.
  • 3 Hide
    Hupiscratch , September 27, 2010 11:49 PM
    Google´s suggestions are a great source of fun, and they shouldn´t be shutdown.
  • 2 Hide
    randomizer , September 28, 2010 12:24 AM
    The funny thing is, it's quite likely that the reason these potential search queries showed up at the top of the list is because people are already using those queries. This man needs to sue the internets

    EggrenadeIf Google did start censoring search queries they would probably have an ACLU lawsuit on their hands, and that would cost more than 5000 Euros in legal fees.

    Sadly that may only be true for the US. Google censors plenty of their localised mirror domains.
  • 0 Hide
    mikem_90 , September 28, 2010 12:25 AM
    rohitbaranWell, after this event, that person's name is going to be searched even more.


    The Streisand Effect strikes again!

    Really though what is with some governments? They're just being Luddite jackasses. I do wonder though, there was talk that Microsoft was behind some of the DOJ action against Google, what is to stop them from spreading some little bits of trouble over the world? Its not like a lack of laws in a region has stopped a company before from acting immorally.

    Being popular draws a lot of jealousy. A lot of companies would be glad to be rid of Google, so they could go back to business as usual.
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