Google Must Censor Google Instant In Italy For Derogatory Suggestions

ZDNet UK reports the Court of Milan has ruled that Google has to filter the auto-completions that Google Instant provides in Italy.

The issue is that someone was searching for a particular name and Google offered search completions for the name with con man or fraud. The individual sued forcing Google to filter out those suggestions and won, requiring Google remove any libellous search suggestions for his name. The Court of Milan upheld that ruling on March 31st.

The court felt the auto-completions were something being produced by Google and thus did not fall under the protection of the E-Commerce Directive’s safe harbour provisions.

“Google argued that it could not be held liable because it is a hosting provider, but we showed that this is content produced by them (and by the way, they do filter out certain content, including terms that are known to be used to distribute copyright-infringing material), although through automated means,” Piana wrote. “All cases are different, therefore there is no assurance that similar cases would see the same outcome,” Piana said. He added that this case had “caused a lot of trouble to the client, who has a public image both as an entrepreneur and provider of educational services in the field of personal finance”.

Google said they were “disappointed” by the ruling. “We believe that Google should not be held liable for terms that appear in autocomplete as these are predicted by computer algorithms based on searches from previous users, not by Google itself,” a Google spokesperson said. “We are currently reviewing our options.”

If this happens elsewhere, you hire a reputation management firm to help manipulate those Google suggestions. The irony is the picture I used above that shows an auto-completion for [google is...] as, Google is Evil.

As you may know, Google and Italy don’t have a good history. Just see some of the stories below.

Related Stories:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Business Issues | Google: Instant | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US | Google: Suggest | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Andrew Davis

    Interesting…Wonder how this will play out. I feel like a lot of similar lawsuits related to Google Instant are on the horizon.

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