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Google Instant Costs Google $65,000 In France
The Local, a French newspaper, reports Google France was ordered to pay €50,000 ($64,670) to Lyonnaise de Garantie, a French insurance company over a search suggestion that had them labeled as being a “crook.”
In the case of this French company, when you typed in their company name, Lyonnaise de Garantie it suggested at the end of the name escroc, which means crook or swindler. Google lost the case and was ordered to pay €50,000 ($64,670).
As you know, Google’s Search Suggestions, part of Google Instant, shows search result completions as you type. The suggestions are based off of search query volume. So if many people are searching for your name with an offensive term at the end, Google will use that data to searchers as a possible likely query match.
Every now and then, those suggestions can be hurtful to the reputation of a company or individual. That is why there is a whole new industry around online reputation management for search results and even search suggestions.
The Paris court held that in this case the suggestion “was offensive towards the company” and Google should be able to have “human control” over these suggestions. As you know, Google does not like human intervention in the search results and thus went to court to protect their ideology. They did so even after losing similar cases in the past in this and some other countries. I do not think Google would lose a case like this in the U.S.
As you can see, the search result doesn’t seem to show up anymore. I assume the court also forced Google to remove it.