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