Tokyo Court Orders Google To Alter Search Suggestions & Pay Fines

google-autocomplete-japanAFP reports a Japan court has ruled Google to alter the search suggestions and fined Google 300,000 yen ($3,100).

The Tokyo District Court ruled that Google has to change the auto-completions for a search on a particular man’s name – the name was undisclosed – because Google provided suggestions that the man committed criminal acts. In addition, Google was ordered to pay the man $3,100 for the mental anguish the search suggestion caused him.

What is interesting is that since Google does not operate the search results from within Japan, Google technically does not and historically has not, altered the results in Japan. This case is slightly different than the one earlier Japan ruling that Google ignored, in that this one has potential damages for defamation.

As I said above, this is not the first time Google has been in legal trouble over the feature. Japan courts ruled before on auto-complete. They also lost cases in France and in Italy over Autocomplete, and an Irish hotel has also sued Google over suggestions.

Google does indeed remove some auto-complete suggestions, such as piracy related terms and adult terms. But when it comes to reputation management, Google prefers to let the algorithm do its work.

Here is a video from panel at SMX West on how Google handles search policy, such as these and tougher issues:

To learn more about the system, see our comprehensive article, How Google Instant’s Autocomplete Suggestions Work.

Related Stories

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Legal | Google: Outside US | Google: Suggest


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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  • Dan Crocker

    For real? The same thing happens when you search my name and I’m not complaining about it.

  • Josh

    But you don’t know what the auto complete was… Child molester? Yeah, I’d rather be suggested as a killer, too!

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