French Court Forcing Google To Remove Word 'Scam' From Google Suggest

from the public-interest? dept

Last year we wrote about two contradictory rulings in France involving lawsuits by companies upset about how Google Suggest works. As you probably know, as you type a query into Google, it tries to "suggest" the rest of the query, based on common searches beginning with what you typed. This is all done automatically and is an algorithmic function of what people are actually searching on. The "problem" was that in one case, people were searching for the name of a company, Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance (CNFDI), and one of the most popular searches, meaning one of the suggested searches, was to follow CNFDI with "arnaque," which means "scam." In one case, from a company called Direct Energie, the court ruled that it was Google's fault -- and oddly blamed the fact that the results were not alphabetical to suggest Google was at fault. The better ruling came in the CNFDI case where the court pointed out that search engines are "important tools for the free circulation of ideas and information," and the fact that many people were questioning whether CNFDI was a scam was, in fact, important and potentially useful information, and thus not libelous by itself. It also said that the burden on free speech would be too great if Google were forced to remove the suggestion.

So much for that ruling. Reader Mike Read has sent in the news that an appeals court has reversed the CNFDI ruling and found Google liable. Its reasoning is that Google lets people alert the company to "offensive" terms in Google suggest, and it believes that "scam" is an offensive term. I have to question that logic. If people are legitimately concerned that there are scams going on, why shouldn't that be expressed?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    solution, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 10:26am

    everytime someone searchs for "french court system"

    show the word scam

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Tyanna, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    I'm honestly starting to feel sorry for Google.

    Now they are at fault b/c of what people search for? Question is though, if they turned off the suggestion list in France, and people still searched for CNFDI Scam...would they still be liable?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 10:40am

    Is there a legal definition of "offensive" in the French courts? Because if there is, either it is ridiculously broad or this court just ignored it outright.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 10:52am

    So what everyone appears to be saying is that Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance is a scam? That Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance scams users? That Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance are a bunch of scammy scammers perpetrating scams on innocent children? That every person employed with Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance are criminal scammers?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    man, those french...are some fucked up people. haha, no?

     

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  6.  
    icon
    Brendan (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 11:11am

    Ridiculous.

    Some person/company doesn't like being associated with a term does not immediately make it "offensive."

    Perhaps the courts should also block "corruption" from suggest, to prevent association of the term with any questionable practices of leaders in the country...

     

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  7.  
    icon
    Avatar28 (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 11:12am

    Re:

    Oui oui! Paris is the city of love, no? And ze word "scam," she is not very loving!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 11:17am

    Why

    I love that suggest feature, try typing "why" or "why won't". :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    DS, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 11:22am

    Re:

    Yes, it's anything that's from the USA, excluding Jerry Lewis.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 11:34am

    Re:

    Seriously. If I ran Google, the Belgian (am I remembering that right?) papers would not be indexed, and every instance of "French" would be preceded by a randomly generated adjective selected by those voted on by the community.

    tl;dr Frak 'em.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Morewords, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 11:34am

    Should they also ban the words "frog" and "defeatist"?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    zontag, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    pretty stupid from a French court...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:07pm

    Pull out of France?

    Maybe Google should pull out of France too? Maybe all big US internet companies should pull out as France seems to be making a money grab from everyone they can get a hold of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    And France wonders why it's influence shrinks day by day.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:13pm

    so basically, this company scams people and expects people not to read or hear about and search for it?

    maybe they should stop scamming people and suing and actually improve their reputation.

    in fact, doesn't this suit alert more people to their scamming ways?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Mark Peskin (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:18pm

    Can we start a campaign to ensure the top suggestion for "cheese" is "eating surrender monkey" ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Smart Alec, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Why

    OMG that is too funny. I'll be at this all day.
    Why do I?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Paul (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    I Wonder if Google isn't shooting themselves in the foot?

    Try this one. Pick a religion, and type after it 'is'.

    For example "Mormonism is'. Try Christianity, try Hinduism, try Astrology, try Numerology. Every single one of them gives you some sort of list. Some of the suggestions are rather rude.

    Then try 'Islam is'. You get nothing. Now, you can't tell me nobody searches for Islam ....

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Liam (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Re: I Wonder if Google isn't shooting themselves in the foot?

    now that is interesting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Saregos, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Why

    Try "I really hope you"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Re: I Wonder if Google isn't shooting themselves in the foot?

    Paul. Dude. You're awesome.

    That is even cooler than when typing in "why won't" ended in "my parakeet eat my diarrhea". (I'm not kidding.)

    I'm going to show everyone this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Chimpbush McHitlerBurton, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 2:59pm

    Scamdal

    I can't believe no one has asked this, but...

    Is it true that Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance raped and murdered a young girl in 1990? Because people are saying that they heard that somewhere...

    Scamdalous!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Stuart, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 4:34pm

    Re:

    No. I think it is more like Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance could be considered to be perpetrating scams, or that Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance scams consistently. Possibly even that Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance scam Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance scam scam scam Centre National Prive de Formation a Distance scam.
    Not sure though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    mermaldad (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:10pm

    French Words

    Here are some useful French words:

    scam - arnaquer, escroquerie (f., colloquial)
    offensive - offensif
    corrupt - corrompué
    ridiculous - ridicule
    litigious - litigieux

    Excuse me, I need to go do some searches...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    jenningsthecat (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Pull out of France?

    I signed in to say much the same thing, but since it's already been said I'll just add my nod of approval. If Google et al simply 'turned off the taps' in France, I suspect the French people would convince the government to smarten up really fast.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2010 @ 5:44am

    Re: I Wonder if Google isn't shooting themselves in the foot?

    I did...got tons of items

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    ijcaonline.org, Apr 27th, 2010 @ 4:11am

    SCAM JOURNAL - ijcaonline.org

    SCAM JOURNAL PUBLSIHING UNREFEREED PAPERS!!!

    International Journal of Computer Applications
    ijcaonline.org

    The best place to publish nonsensical papers!!!

    Papers published by IJCA have no recognition in most Universities!!

    Blacklisted by several universities in Europe, US and Asia!!

    International Journal of Computer Applications
    ijcaonline.org

    a SCAM JOURNAL!!! BEWARE!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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