Google loses case in Germany over autocomplete search suggestions

The company will not have to remove autocomplete in Germany, but it must evaluate potential defamation claims when they are brought to its attention.

Google

Google suffered another loss in a German court ruling. On Tuesday, Germany's Federal Court of Justice ruled that Google's autocomplete feature, which automatically generates search suggestions based on what the user is typing, can lead to infringing situations that require remedy.

The case involved a search on a user's name via google.de that included autocomplete entries --"Scientology" and "fraud" -- which the court deemed defamatory to the plaintiff.

Google will not have to remove autocomplete in Germany, but it must evaluate potential defamation claims related to the feature when they are brought to its attention. A similar autocomplete defamation case involving Bettina Wulff, wife of former German President Christian Wulf, is still pending in the courts and will likely be influenced by the ruling.

In April, the city of Hamburg, where Google has headquarters, fined Google $189,000 for violating privacy law when its cars were collecting data, including some from private Wi-Fi networks, for its Street View mapping service. Google is also involved in a patent suit with Microsoft in the German courts that could result in a ban of Google Maps in the country .

About the author

Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

 

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