Google Autocomplete ties Australian health researcher to false blackmail accusations

Occurred: 2015-

Google was accused of linking to false allegations accusing Australian health researcher Dr Janice Duffy of blackmail, computer hacking, fraud and stalking, leading her to sue Google for defamation. South Australia's Supreme Court found the search engine company guilty of publishing defamatory imputations about Duffy 'to a substantial number of people.'

Duffy sued Google Inc and Google Australia after the search engine refused to remove links automatically appearing in its Autocomplete search predictions to US-based 'shaming' website Ripoff Report. Ripoff Report had refused to remove the allegations. 

Google eventually removed the relevant links to Rip-Off Report, but only after Dr Duffy had filed a lawsuit and two years after she first made the request. However, as noted by the judge, defamatory content continued to appear in Google's Autocomplete system when Dr Duffy's name was typed into Google. 

Operator: Alphabet/Google
Developer: Alphabet/Google

Country: Australia

Sector: Health

Purpose: Predict search results

Technology: NLP/text analysis; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Mis/disinformation; Privacy; Legal - defamation/libel

Transparency: Governance; Black box; Legal

Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️