Google Autocomplete associates Italian businessman with 'fraud'

Occurred: 2011

Google lost a legal case in Milan, Italy, in which a businessman was unfairly suggested to linked to ‘truffa’ ('fraud') and being a ‘truffatore’ ('conman') by its Autocomplete function. 

The unnamed entrepreneur had complained that, when his name was typed into the search engine, Autocomplete suggested terms that were untrue and defamatory. 

The court dismissed the technology company's claim that it was not responsible for the suggestions. Google said it was ‘disappointed’ by the decision, adding: ‘We believe that Google should not be held liable for terms that appear in Autocomplete as these are predicted by computer algorithms based on searches from previous users, not by Google itself.’


Operator: Alphabet/Google
Developer: Alphabet/Google
Country: Italy
Sector: Banking/financial services
Purpose: Predict search results
Technology: NLP/text analysis; Deep learning; Machine learning  
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Legal; Safety
Transparency: Governance; Black box