John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Auto-Ban: German Court Orders Google to Delete Offensive Search Suggestions

Autcomplete-failGermany’s Federal Court of Justice has ordered Google to evaluate requests to remove potentially defamatory autocomplete search entries. In a Tuesday decision, the court said it is Google’s responsibility to remove autocomplete results that falsely imply “a factual link between [an individual] and terms … which have negative connotations.”

At issue here are a pair of cases born out of autocomplete searches that associated individuals with words like “Scientology” and “fraud,” and “prostitute” and “escort.” Google insists it has no control over autocomplete suggestions, which are automatically generated according to the frequency of keyword searches. And while the court agreed, it determined that the company has an obligation to remove defamatory suggestions when they are brought to its attention.

“We are disappointed with the decision from the German Supreme Court,” a Google spokesman said. “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.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work