Yesterday I talked about the legal battle Google lost in Switzerland. That legal action is mandating that Google Street View do so much manual editing that continuing that project’s Swiss division simply isn’t feasible. However, it’s just one of the many legal battles that Google is fighting all over Europe. Another major loss happened on April 5th when Google was ordered to censor the content of their Google Instant search suggestions.
For those who haven’t been paying attention to Google development over the last few months, Instant is the HTML 5 feature that gives you “results before you type.” When you type in just the first few words of a query, Google will look at the associated phrases that are search for frequently and will, instantly, provide those results on your page. The issue in Italy came from an individual who was unhappy with the autocomplete suggestions on his name – which implied that he was a con man.
The Italian court determined that Google was responsible for any libelous accusations, even if indirect, since the autocomplete results are seen as content generated by Google, “although through an automated means.” As support for this case, the plaintiff’s legal team demonstrated that Google does censor its results in other instances, including when copywritten or offensive material is included.
This court order doesn’t mandate that Google start censoring the Instant suggestions for every possible name, but it does open the door for similar legal actions. This could mean a long and irksome road for the company unless an automated complaint tool or similar solution is implemented.
[via ZD Net]