Google Autocomplete links French sex offender to rape
Occurred: September 2010
Google was ordered by the Superior Court of Paris to update its Autocomplete search term prediction function and remove links to a blog that accused 'X', an anonymous convicted sex offender, of being involved in sexually assaulting a child.
Per Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, 'X' had argued that inclusion of the links violated privacy and data protection law as it named his profession and his employer alongside the accusation of involvement in child sex abuse in a way that was inadequate, unrelated, irrelevant and excessive. The man was also being automatically associated with terms such as 'rape', 'rapist', and 'satanist'.
However, because the man had been appealing his conviction, Google was found to have been defaming him as French law declares individuals innocent until all appeals are exhausted. The case was seen in academic and legal circles as an example of freedom of information and potential personality interests entering into conflict.
Sector: Private - individual
Purpose: Predict search results
Technology: NLP/text analysis; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Privacy; Legal
Transparency: Governance; Black box
Published: August 2023