by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
autocomplete, japan, judges, privacy, technology


Japanese Court Misunderstands Autocomplete, Orders Google To Turn It Off To Protect 'Privacy'

from the can't-judges-talk-to-techies? dept

Over the past few years, we've seen a number of lawsuits around the globe concerning Google's "autocomplete" feature, which takes common searches based on what you've already typed and suggests those as potential full searches. The feature can be pretty useful (and also amusing at times). In the US, the entertainment industry has freaked out about it, leading to Google's bizarrely hamfisted censorship of the results.

But that's not good enough for some. We've covered cases in France and Italy where Google was found liable for "suggestions" that a user didn't like (usually associating whoever was complaining with something bad). Of course, that totally misunderstands the feature and suggests that it's actually Google directly saying this is the best suggestion (in fact, I wonder if this is why Google stopped calling this "Google Suggest" and moved to simply calling it "autocomplete").

The latest, as pointed out by TNW, is that a court in Japan has actually ordered Google to turn off the feature entirely, claiming that it's a violation of privacy. Privacy? Huh? Basically, it sounds like a guy complained that searches on his name popped up suggestions with all sorts of bad things (the article says "criminal acts"), and the guy thinks his getting fired and difficulty finding another job was due to this. Of course, it's difficult to see how that's a privacy issue at all, or how it's Google's fault. Google claims that as a US company it has no obligation to obey the injunction.

The thing is, the guy remains unnamed. If he actually named himself, he might solve the problem by promoting more stories about how he's not actually associated with these crimes, and those would likely rise to the top. In the meantime, what does it take for a judge to ask someone who actually understands technology for some pointers before making a ruling that shows a basic ignorance of what the tech does?

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  1. identicon
    Yoshord, 27 Mar 2012 @ 6:31am

    I searched my name and found only a car dealership and some psycologist who was born about 135 years ago and died 55 years ago. I do hope having died and then reincarnating as a building that other people sell cars in doesn't affect my future prospects too badly.

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