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France: Lawsuits over Google Suggest

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:  Techdirt, Two Separate Rulings In France Split Over Whether Google's Suggestion Algorithm Can Be Libelous




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