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Google Businesses Censorship The Courts Technology Your Rights Online

French Court Frowns On Autocomplete, Tells Google To Remove Searches 343

Posted by timothy
from the la-coste-has-an-esalligator dept.
New submitter Lexx Greatrex writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "Google had been sued by insurance company Lyonnaise de Garantie, which was offended by search results including the word 'escroc,' meaning crook, according to a story posted Tuesday by the Courthouse News Service. 'Google had argued that it was not liable since the word, added under Google Suggest, was the result of an automatic algorithm and did not come from human thought,' the article states. 'A Paris court ruled against Google, however, pointing out that the search engine ignored requests to remove the offending word... In addition to the fine, Google must also remove the term from searches associated with Lyonnaise de Garantie.'"
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French Court Frowns On Autocomplete, Tells Google To Remove Searches

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:49PM (#38616546)

    Show some balls google.

    Disable everything that is google in France for 1 day and blame it on the court. In 3-6 weeks, when you have a valid fix, silently put that in.

  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson.gmail@com> on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:49PM (#38616552) Homepage Journal

    Whenever French users search for "Lyonnaise de Garantie," Google should just return "Your search - Lyonnaise de Garantie - did not match any documents." And then a list of competing insurance companies.

    There! Problem solved!

  • by mykos (1627575) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:50PM (#38616564)
    You want corporate censorship? You got it. Be careful what you wish for.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:52PM (#38616600) Journal

    I don't know whether Lyonnaise de Garantie are crooks, but this is the mother of Streisand effects.

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki&gmail,com> on Friday January 06, 2012 @07:57PM (#38616670) Homepage

    Didn't they do that a few years ago with some papers and such from Belgium, and then they came screaming back about it when their sites dropped around 80% of their traffic? I'm sure I read that here on /. a few days ago, well considering my memory it could have been a few years ago too.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:00PM (#38616698) Homepage

    Now "Lyonnaise de Garantie escroc" is a valid Google term, because I may have heard about this ruling and want to read more about it. So, auto-suggesting as such is highly relevant to me.

  • Re:Simple Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phrogman (80473) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:33PM (#38617084) Homepage

    Well if enough stories about this get posted to the web that mention the fact that Lyonnaise de Garantie didn't want its name associated with "escroc" - then google will end up indexing a ton of instances where Lyonnaise de Garantie's name is associated with "escroc". In fact it may be enough instances of "escroc" being associated with Lyonnaise de Garantie, to "guarantee" (pun intended) that it turns up as a common result. I hope this story gets great coverage.

    Leglislating search results is just hopeless.

  • Re:Censorship. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penix1 (722987) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:38PM (#38617138) Homepage

    Then the solution is to remove "Lyonnaise de Garantie" from the search engine all together. Wipe them off any search result what-so-ever. Nothing in French law requires Google to index any site...

  • Re:Censorship. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jpapon (1877296) on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:45PM (#38617208) Journal
    Then I believe they lose their "no human interaction" protection. Of course, that protection seems to be worthless now anyways so....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @08:52PM (#38617252)

    Also, google does not have a monopoly on search engines, as that is not a service it sells. Google's business is in online advertisement, which it is not a monopoly (although it does have a massive chunk of the industry).

    Google most definitely has a monopoly in web advertising...it's why they're being investigated in Europe for antitrust. The DOJ lead who went after Microsoft ten years ago considers Google a monopoly, and Eric Schmidt told the U.S. Senate that Google was "in the area" of being a monopoly. I think there's so much resistance to admitting it on Slashdot because "monopoly!" was an anti-Microsoft rallying cry for so many years, and to put Google in the same boat kind of stings a little.

    I have to say, though, that watching the moderators attack anyone who even dares utter the words "monopoly" and "Google" in the same sentence is both amusing and sad. How many ongoing investigations are there of Google right now, particularly in Europe? I mean, come on. It's not trolling to point out that Google is friggin' huge.

  • Re:What if... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fatphil (181876) on Friday January 06, 2012 @09:07PM (#38617420) Homepage
    A self-requested google bomb, n'est pas?

    Search engines henceforth will now be obliged to associate Lyonnaise de Garantie and crooks, for if they don't they wouldn't be very good search engines. Even if it isn't true that Lyonnaise de Garantie are crooks, they're definitely idiots.

    I refuse to take part in any such gaming, clearly.
  • Re:What if... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tsingi (870990) <graham.rick@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday January 06, 2012 @09:33PM (#38617670)
    Or what if Google disabled searches on Lyonnaise de Garantie. Then there would be no search terms, offensive or otherwise.
  • by Skidborg (1585365) on Friday January 06, 2012 @09:36PM (#38617694)
    You know, cheering for an already absurdly powerful tech company to irresponsibly throw its weight around every time someone steps on its toes seems like... well... a really terrible idea.
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday January 06, 2012 @09:36PM (#38617696)

    Better plan:

    1. Do enough bad things that people in your country start adding their word for "crook" to searches with your trademark
    2. Sue Google. And Bing and Yahoo and Yelp and so on!
    3. Profit! (through the lawsuits)
    4. Profit more! (because your crappy customer service no longer hurts you now that all review aggregators are forced to hide it)

  • Never mind... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:26PM (#38618172)
    ...posting to remove a misapplied moderation. How about either (a) an undo option or (b) a moderation widget that's robust against bumped elbows, Slashdot?
  • Re:Censorship. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thedonger (1317951) on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:30PM (#38618210)

    The trick here is that this is an autosuggest. Google is suggesting, now what that means can vary. I take that to mean google is suggesting that these are things commonly searched together. If you take it to mean 'google is suggesting you should search for' or 'google is suggesting that' then the situation is a bit different.

    Google is suggesting a query string, not a matter of truth. In fact, there is no truth value associated with the query; the truth lies within the results of the search.

    My interpretation: This is another example of people with limited understanding of the internet attempting to regulate it. We will all suffer as a result. OTOH, as long as they are not filtering results we can still search for "french government has their head up their own ass." They are really lucky I like Bordeaux wines and French cheese and pate de campagne.

  • Re:What if... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rashkae (59673) on Friday January 06, 2012 @11:13PM (#38618508) Homepage

    Naw... Google will do what they always do... any searches for Lyonnaise de Grantie will prominently dispaly a notice about how many search results are ommitted and link to the court order that explains why. Why would google remove the company from search results and give up a golden opportunity to dish out another lesson on Streisand Effect?

  • by Rennt (582550) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:02AM (#38619154)

    It might hurt France more - for one day. After that Google is back and nobody trusts their services not to disappear again on a whim. That WILL hurt Google. A lot. For months or years. Globally.

    It's a bad idea is what I am saying.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07, 2012 @01:48AM (#38619434)

    It was called communism, and it failed miserably. That expectation of receiving money for your work was changed for, go work or else.

    "There is talk about the failure of socialism, yet where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America? Where is the success of capitalism in places where thousands of millions of people live? I believe that the failure of capitalism should be discussed as much as the failure of socialism in a small number of countries. Capitalism failed in more than 100 countries, which now face a truly desperate situation." - Fidel Castro, 1991.

    And communism was never tried, not in a large scale. Try to read about its ideas before you make a fool of yourself again, or at least refrain from talking about what you don't understand. And that goes for other topics too, if you have no idea what it is about your uneducated opinion is irrelevant.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @04:18AM (#38619948)

    If I ran Google I'd blacklist said company. No results for them period, on any search. I'd say "To make sure we comply with the order that no offensive terms ever lead to you, we have removed you from our indexing entirely. This is the only way we can ensure that there is never an offensive term that might result in your company being linked."

    They'd quickly find out it is not good for business when you can't be located by the most popular search engine. If they wanted back on I'd demand they sign an indemnity/permission document saying that they agree never to sue us no matter what search terms may end up linking to them.

  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @06:57AM (#38620468)
    No - insurance PRETENDS to fill this role, and then uses the large pool of cash it gains access to to cruelly exploit the weak.

    I am not opposed to insurance as a concept - but it will only work with strong state regulation to contain its excesses.

    Obviously I do not live in America, where exploiting the weak is considered a virtuous act and to be applauded, especially if it makes you rich. Most bizarely, this belief seems to be as strong in the exploited as in everyone else..

    Here in Europe, most people know (often from the experience of close family) that, while they, personally, may be strong now, they could easily be weak tomorrow. Those that don't believe this were given too free a rein lately - and now we are in a mess.

  • by sFurbo (1361249) on Saturday January 07, 2012 @09:24AM (#38620972)

    "There is talk about the failure of socialism, yet where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America?"

    He was correct, if you didn't count Japan, Singapore, Mexico, Argentina, Hong Kong or South Korea, which is a round-about way of saying that he was wrong. True, Africa south of Sahara isn't doing great, but that doesn't seem to correlate with economic model, and has more to do with the lack of infrastructure and protection of property rights. But then, quoting a communist despot on the success of capitalism is like quoting a catholic priest on the succes of the gay right movement: Unless you are doing it to ridicule the quotee, you are not doing your argument or your credibilty any favors.

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Saturday January 07, 2012 @11:35AM (#38621618) Journal

    "And communism was never tried, not in a large scale"

    That's because real communism fails long before a situation can ever get to a "large scale". Communism does appear to work with small to modestly sized communities, but once the number of people grows beyond a certain size, communism starts to break down because of unavoidable human condition factors such as greed and laziness. Communism only works as long as there are enough people in it that are willing, for whatever reason, to work for each other and give to each other. As the number of people who may not share this ideal reaches a critical mass in any community, it quickly outweighs the rest of that community's ability to support itself, and the system falls apart. The general breaking point for communism appears to be when the group becomes large enough for people to not feel any personal obligation to the society as a whole, which, owing to size limits on the number of people that any one person can directly socialize with on any level, coupled with the fact that subgroups inevitably form where everybody knows everybody in the subgroup, and they mostly socialize only with eachother, in practice seems to be no more than several hundred people. Larger groups can have limited apparent success at implementing communism, but in practice, it is always shown that they cannot sustain themselves indefinitely, and the system invariably falls apart.

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