Published in News

Germans tell Google to sort out autocomplete

by on15 May 2013

We have ways of making you do it

Google has been told to remove search suggestions from autocomplete in Germany if the results are offensive. The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe upheld a complaint by the founder and CEO of a company that sells nutritional supplements and cosmetics on the Internet, who was only identified as R.S. in a news release.

In 2010, the complainant noted that when he searched for his full name on the autocomplete functionality suggested search terms where his full name was combined with "Scientology" and with the German word for fraud. The plaintiff felt his personal rights and business reputation were violated because he is not in any way related to Scientology and the search accuses him of fraud. He argued that Google should stop using the two terms as suggestions in the autocomplete results.

In May 2012, the Higher Regional Court in Cologne ruled in favor of Google. It found that the autocomplete terms did not infringe the plaintiff's privacy, but the Federal Court of Justice overturned that. Google has to remove the search terms but does not have to alter its software, the court ruled. It also does not have to verify generated search terms in advance for possible breaches, but Google has to remove offensive or defamatory autocomplete results when it is notified, the court ruled.

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