Google may be in trouble again over the automated suggestions that its Autocomplete feature provides to searchers.
According to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (and also reported by TechCrunch), Bettina Wulff — wife of the country’s former president, Christian Wulff — is suing Google because Autocomplete suggests prostitution-related terms when a searcher types her name into Google’s search box. (The couple are shown in the photo above.)
Indeed, searches this afternoon on both Google.de and Google.com reference terms like “escort” and “prostitute” in the Autocomplete suggestions.
German reports say that rumors began to surface in 2010, just days before the presidential election, that Wulff had previously worked as an escort before she met her husband. Wulff elected not to acknowledge the rumors during her husband’s time in office but, now that he’s out of office (since February), she’s submitted to the court a signed affidavit denying the allegations.
In her lawsuit, Wulff wants the court to prevent Google from showing the derogatory terms next to searches for her name.
Google has twice lost similar lawsuits in France — first in January 2010 when the French word for “scam” was showing in Autocomplete next to a company’s name, and again in September 2010 when the words “rapist” and “satanist” showed in suggestions for an individual’s name. Google also lost an Autocomplete case in Italy last year, and settled a case with an Irish hotel.