Feeds

Google in dock again over defamatory auto-complete

Cruel algorithm cost man his job

The essential guide to IT transformation

A Japanese man is suing Google again after claiming that when his name is typed into the web giant’s search box, the auto-complete function brings up words and phrases related to criminal acts, which link through to articles defaming him.

The man, who unfortunately can’t be named for obvious reasons, filed with the Tokyo District Court, demanding that the offending characters be removed when his name is used as a search term and that Google pay him compensation for the embarrassment it has caused.

Amazingly, the man believes that in a cruel twist of fate, the web mix-up led to his abrupt dismissal from employment several years ago and subsequent difficulty in finding a new role, according to Kyodo news service.

The court has already sided with the man, ordering Google to stop displaying the characters back in March, but the web firm did not comply, forcing the plaintiff to return to court and demand financial compensation for the defamation he suffered.

This isn’t the first time Google has gotten into trouble for the unexpected side-effects of its autocomplete feature.

It lost a case in Milan last year after an angry Italian gent complained his name was autocompleted with words such as truffatore (con man) and truffa (fraud), while a Paris court ruled against it in 2010 after the plaintiff was associated with terms such as “rapist” and “satanist”.

Google’s defence in these situations is that such cases are few and far between, not the result of any human intervention and that data is updated frequently to stay current.

In other words – “sorry, but that’s the way the algorithm crumbles”.

Google could not immediately be reached for comment on the Japanese case. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
True fact: 1 in 4 Brits are now TERRORISTS
YouGov poll reveals terrible truth about the enemy within
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?