France: Lawsuits over Google
Google Suggest makes searches more convenient
and efficient by auto-completing queries as users type them into the search box.
In France, the two companies Direct Energie and CNFDI found out, that when
people started searching on their company names, the first suggestion was their
company name followed by the word "arnaque," which means "scam." Google
Suggest works by finding the most common searches, so this only means that most
of the people searching for these companies did this in connection with the word
arnaque. Nethertheless both sued Google.
Direct Energie won. The judge in this case
probably did not understand, how Google Suggest works. He complained that the
list offered by Google was neither alphabetically nor sorted accordingly to the
highest number of results. So he ordered Google to change the results!
CNFDI lost. The judge in this case understood
how Google's algorithm works and came to a reasonable decision. He found that
the fact that many people were questioning whether CNFDI was a scam was
potentially useful information, and thus not libelous by itself. Forcing Google
to remove such a suggestion would be too big a burden on free speech.
For more information on these two cases see:
Two Separate Rulings In France Split Over Whether Google's Suggestion Algorithm
Can Be Libelous