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Google Loses Autocomplete Defamation Case

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the why-italy-and-google-shouldn't-date dept.

EU 258

superglaze writes "Google has been found liable in an Italian court for defamatory comments made against an anonymous plaintiff — the complainant's name, when googled, elicited autocomplete suggestions that translate as 'con man' and 'fraud.' Google was found not to qualify for EU 'safe harbour' protection because the autocomplete suggestions were deemed to be Google's own creation, and not something merely passing through its systems."

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258 comments

WHAT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728336)

That's freaking retarded also frost piss your motherfuckers

Time to cut them off... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728338)

That's it. Clearly Italy has shown that it can't handle the Internet. Someone grab me a chainsaw, I'm cutting their fiberz.

Re:Time to cut them off... (4, Insightful)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728444)

I would like to see the shitstorm that would arise if Google played that card.

"Fine, you wanna be stupid, then we wont play. Lets see how you deal with a one week outage of our FREE services to you."

Re:Time to cut them off... (1)

ylt (1809598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728544)

I would like to see the shitstorm that would arise if Google played that card.

At this point, Google and Yahoo can do it together.

Re:Time to cut them off... (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729020)

I would like to see the shitstorm that would arise if Google played that card.

As would I. Italy has been pulling crap like this for quite a few years, and this is the second absolutely ridiculous judgment against Google in an Italian court in the past... what, day? Two days?

The fact is that Google doesn't create those search suggestions. It merely presents a list of other people's queries based on frequency. That means that Google didn't defame this person. A lot of people doing previous searches did. This would have been an open and shut case in Google's favor in anything but a kangaroo court, which can only lead a sane person to question whether they would have ruled the same way had it been an Italian company. Just saying.

I think it's about time a major Internet company had the cojones to put Italy in its place—redirect all Google search and Gmail access from Italy to a page explaining the court case, and explaining why Google will no longer serve clients inside Italy. People at the top of Italy's government would be bending over backwards not only to correct the court's decision, but also to make sure it never happens again. Three hours. Tops. And even that's only if they do it over the lunch hour.

Re:Time to cut them off... (5, Insightful)

SilentChasm (998689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729114)

I'm pretty sure the courts reasoning is that, because google is now modifying their autocomplete (removing "piracy" related things) they are no longer just showing what other people searched for but are actually somewhat responsible for the results now.

Re:Time to cut them off... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729550)

Even so, Google is not in any way implying that the autocompleted term is factually correct, only that it was a string of words searched for by other users. That they block certain terms could muddy the issue if it were done for reasons of accuracy, but it isn't, and thus it doesn't imply any endorsement of the statement.

The words appearing on the screen have more context than is being taken into account by the court; the 'fact' that Google presented - that many previous users had searched for the term "x is a fraud" - is provably true, whether or not the allegations of fraud are. I'm somewhat surprised that they didn't play it like that in court, actually - they tried to argue that they hadn't produced the content, rather than debating the facts implied by its appearance.

Re:Time to cut them off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35729166)

Going to war with a national government isn't to be taken on lightly. If Italy doesn't fold and decides to play chicken you could see such action getting ugly for both parties quickly.

I wouldn't say that google shouldn't do it. I honestly think they are more influential than Italy. The fact remains that a politician with nothing to lose can cut off their nose to spite their face with no greater consequence than losing an election. Seeing as Italian media is largely controlled by the government, such a pissing match could be framed as a disrespect towards Italian sovereignty igniting patriotic posturing. National boycott style.

Then again, if you negotiate with terrorists, pay judgements, or settle lawsuits: you encourage terrorists, judgements, and lawsuits.

The most dangerous thing to a national government is an international citizen with diversified assets, immune from all of the usual thumbscrews.

Re:Time to cut them off... (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729250)

"I wouldn't say that google shouldn't do it. I honestly think they are more influential than Italy."
does italy have any power?

Re:Time to cut them off... (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729560)

Going to war with a national government isn't to be taken on lightly. If Italy doesn't fold and decides to play chicken you could see such action getting ugly for both parties quickly.

Google doesn't have to "go to war", they simply have to stop doing business in Italy. If Google has no assets that Italy can seize, then Italy can make one judgment after another and it won't make any difference.

Re:Time to cut them off... (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729610)

it wouldn't be "war" any more than netflix not being available is netflix at war with Italy.

i think google's best option here is to cut Italy off.

the Italian government has not acted in the interests of the people for a long time. google getting switched off wont change that, but it'll make the people even more pissed.

the main problem is i bet the "anonymous" person behind the lawsuit has mafia and berlusconi (and judiciary) connections.

Re:Time to cut them off... (2)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729312)

In the end a simple appeal should be enough. The appeal the man's name must be unique. If the name is not unique then the man's own feeling his possible guilt and shame drive the reaction. A name is not a sufficient identifier on the internet and those auto complete merely reflect an automated history of searches, google is not responsible for those searches. Additionally google should have the right to know the name and to be able to publicly seek evidence of the validity of any accusations and thus be able to prove whether the person named is a fraudster or con man.

Re:Time to cut them off... (1)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728472)

Makes me wonder if there's an judicial exchange program with Australia.

Re:Time to cut them off... (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728548)

Ten bucks says it's Silvio Berlusconi himself. Check out his rap sheet [wikipedia.org] for more exciting facts on just how corrupt one (Italian) man can get!

Re:Time to cut them off... (2)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728740)

The name begins with Truf

If the precedent applied to the US then Dick Wee [google.com] , Dick Hade [google.com] ,and a lot of others can make some money from Google's "Did you mean" suggestions.

Re:Time to cut them off... (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729574)

You're probably right: "Silvio Berlusconi truff..." doesn't generate any suggestions.

However, "Silvio Berlusconi fasc..." still generates "fascist" and "fascism" as suggestions.

Re:Time to cut them off... (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729500)

Someone grab me a chainsaw, I'm cutting their fiberz.

It is my understanding that backhoes are the appropriate equipment for cuttin fiberz. ;)

(Seriously. On land most unplanned fiber outages are due to fools operating backhoes.)

I'm glad there's nothing worth googling me over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728340)

Seriously, it is one of the things that makes me happy, I'm not important at all.

Re:I'm glad there's nothing worth googling me over (4, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728484)

If you're so unimportant, why does Google [google.com] come up with so many pages of results for your name?

Re:I'm glad there's nothing worth googling me over (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728638)

Wow. I forgot how many posts I made. I need to get a life.

Re:I'm glad there's nothing worth googling me over (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728530)

Man, you're lucky. The top results for my name(esp. my full name) are pretty much all porn.

Re:I'm glad there's nothing worth googling me over (0)

vuke69 (450194) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728576)

Maybe your parents should have thought twice before naming you Anal Fisting.

Re:I'm glad there's nothing worth googling me over (2, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728620)

Look on the bright side; if there was a place that hired programmers to work in the nude, you'd be at the top of their list.

Re:I'm glad there's nothing worth googling me over (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729632)

young and needed the money?

Re:I'm glad there's nothing worth googling me over (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729184)

If I search my name, I get the results of a guy who has eerily similar interests and has the same occupation as I do. I have actually had acquaintances ask me if I have moved recently as he lives in another country. The good news is that he is relatively famous within the industry we work, so I can ride on his coattails. :)

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728350)

The Italians are really hammering google lately. At least they haven't found Larry Page in a pizza oven yet.

I keep wondering why... (5, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728352)

... foreign courts are being used for foreign nations to extort money from business they did not produce and had little connection to its success.

Google should stop providing links to Italian businesses.

Re:I keep wondering why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728590)

... foreign courts are being used for foreign nations to extort money from business they did not produce and had little connection to its success.

You mean like the EU fining Intel and Microsoft? *ducks*

Re:I keep wondering why... (2, Insightful)

superdude72 (322167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728636)

Erm, I'm assuming Google is in italy because they turn a profit there. I would call that a connection to Google's success. And for them to stop "providing links" would be like for Pepsi to stop providing sugar water in exchange for money. This is not a route to success. Where did you go to business school, anyway?

Re:I keep wondering why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728868)

No search engines means no web. That doesn't work. I think Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft combined have some clout. The only decent search engine of the three is Google as it is.

Re:I keep wondering why... (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729226)

No search engines means a word-of-mouth web. Just because you can't readily find it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. No DNS would be much closer to no web than no search engines, but even that wouldn't completely eradicate the internet.

Re:I keep wondering why... (1)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729478)

Yahoo isn't a search engine anymore. Bing took over that part for them. They just rebrand the results now a days.

Re:I keep wondering why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728952)

But, Italy is an extremely small portion of the business that Google produces. The loss would barely be felt, if at all.

Re:I keep wondering why... (2)

squeeze69 (756427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728824)

Fancy answer, I'm thinking about "internet" as a worldwide thing, what's the meaning of "foreign courts", where are you from? It's not the "business" area, it's the "justice", not really a nation by itself. I.E. We don't have death penalty in any "region", so we should regard USA (or China, or any other nation) as a barbarian society? Greetings.

Re:I keep wondering why... (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729588)

Courts judgments are only meaningful if they can be enforced. If the Italian court doesn't have a way of getting at Google's assets, what their judges do becomes pretty much irrelevant.

Re:I keep wondering why... (1)

steve buttgereit (644315) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729044)

Hear, hear! Not that Google, itself, is above trying to use 'pull' to their advantage.. but their immorality doesn't make this anymore justified.

Re:I keep wondering why... (2)

drsquare (530038) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729252)

.. foreign courts are being used for foreign nations

Yes, those crafty Italians, using Italian courts to enforce Italian law. Whatever next?

Poor cop-out (0, Flamebait)

frinkster (149158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728356)

Google defended themselves by saying that they shouldn't be held responsible for the output of an algorithm that they created. That's weak.

They should have said "Crap, we screwed up. We'll fix it right away." No judge or jury would think that Google did it on purpose. But with a response like this, they are sure to think that Google doesn't care.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728400)

...they are sure to think that Google doesn't care.

And they shouldn't... Utter nonsense this is. But the idea of controlling speech still appeals to the world's idiots.

Re:Poor cop-out (0, Troll)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728610)

This is not controlling speech. It is punishing specific speech. A critical difference.

Libel and slander are something that Google should be held liable for no different than anyone else.

Unless you hold the position that you can make baseless accusations and character assassinations of people and companies without reprisal your characterization of this as censorship and oppression is a little ridiculous.

Do I believe that Google did this deliberately? Of course not. Safe Harbor is a stupid defense when Google's own code is generating the offending text. Obviously they should refrain from disparaging words and remarks in the auto-complete as they cannot possibly predict or verify if such words are libelous or slander against a person.

Have we really lost anything by doing so? Has Google been oppressed and the world less able to search for information? Does this affect the web with negative legal precedence and adversely affect our ability to express ourselves? Hardly.

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728708)

Yes, because if this were applied to the U.S., organizations like Scientology would have legitimate ground to claim slander for Google auto-suggesting "Scientology sucks" or "Scientology is a scam" even though it's the truth, and even though it's what the people are searching for.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728774)

*sigh* Same bullshit argument comes up every time. The people who believe and act on hearsy are the idiots, and so are the people that stand up for them.

Re:Poor cop-out (4, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728924)

Libel and slander are something that Google should be held liable for no different than anyone else.

AFAIK, in order for something to appear in googles suggestions, someone else has to have searched it first. Google isnt creating the suggestion, its simply remembering the search that someone else did and offering it up.

This really isnt any different than google results turning up libel and slander. Google isnt creating it, its simply indexing it.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

SilentChasm (998689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729146)

But google no longer returns autocomplete suggestions for certain things (like torrent and rapidshare) so it is no longer just doing that. It now has some imput from people at google, which means they can now be held responsible (however stupid that may be).

Part of me wishes for Italy to be cut off from search results after the last few cases. Temporarily enraging the populace is a good way of getting things changed (even if it's abusive of their market position).

Another part of me wishes Google would stop censoring stuff and just go back to before where they weren't liable.

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35729334)

Yeah, let's just forget that those suggestions serve merely to assist in copyright infringement. Because once you censor one thing, even if you were compelled to, that's justification for censoring another.

Or we could just evaluate this subject on its own terms. Or is that too illogical?

Furthermore, I value the people's ability to express their opinions through queries than I do their ability to search for illegal content.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

flowwolf (1824892) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729438)

Almost exactly this. There is a slight difference from the Google results as Google suggests have no links to their source. I find myself considering what would stop the Plaintiff from seeding those suggestions himself?

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

rve (4436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729530)

Google already censors auto complete to avoid offending people. Try typing queries like 'why are nig' or 'how do we get rid of'. You know what would pop up if they didn't have certain filters in their algorithm.

I just tried searching for Silvio Berlusconi on google.it, assuming he is the unnamed plaintiff. It looks like they've already deployed a fix.

Re:Poor cop-out (4, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728974)

Obviously they should refrain from disparaging words and remarks in the auto-complete as they cannot possibly predict or verify if such words are libelous or slander against a person.

I find it surprising that you (and the judge) consider autocompleted text to be potentially libellous - as I mentioned in another post, Google's autocomplete function isn't saying (or even implying) that "x is a fraud" is a factual statement, it's saying that "x is a fraud" is a string of words being searched for regularly.

They make no judgement on the veracity, or even the coherence, of the sentence - they simply present it as something that people have been typing in to the search box. To me, that seems very, very different from Google making or publishing the statement in question.

Re:Poor cop-out (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729002)

You know what? It's not google who makes baseless accusations. BTW, how the fuck is an autocomplete suggestion an accusation I don't know, but let's set this aside. It's a typing aid, damnit. It's a piece of code. It's not programmed to target anyone in particular. Heck, for all I care, the output is precisely a statement of mathematical fact -- an output of a generic autocomplete algorithm, whose input was the snapshot of google's database at a certain point in time. You may not like it, but facts aren't libel, and especially not an output of a relatively simple and impartial algorithm. Sure, google's employees coded it up, but the jump from "autocomplete code" to "libel" (it's not slander, duh!) is a long one.

It's like saying that just because your last name is Liaraan, by chance the same as that of the Liaraan, Anders, the crook, whose dictionary entry succeeds the entry for liar, n., you can sue Liber Load and Co, publishers of said dictionary, for libel. I mean, couldn't they just put the Liaraan's entry somewhere less, um, obvious?

If recent slashdot stories are anything to go by, Italian law is seriously fucked up. Seriously.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729134)

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

You can't censor some things then cry for "safe-harbor" in other areas. If you're simply a transparent conduit for user-provided data, fine, but Google clearly isn't transparent.

I just tried a couple good-old Anglo-Saxon words. I didn't get any suggestions for "assh" or "fuck" either.

What's more confounding is Google's implementation of the policy cited in TFA by the plaintiff's attorney:
"Google argued that it could not be held liable because it is a hosting provider, but we showed that this is content produced by them (and by the way, they do filter out certain content, including terms that are known to be used to distribute copyright-infringing [zdnet.co.uk] material), although through automated means," Piana wrote.

However Google's implementation of this promised screening policy turns out to be pretty inconsistent. Using google.com, it's still possible to search for "[name of movie] torrent" and get a list of torrent sites. So I tried a similar search at google.it. The results are mixed. Entering "la strada" prompts for "la strada streaming" (and even "la strada streaming megavideo"!) and takes me to a page of links. "la strada torrent" returns nothing. I tried a couple of other films. "Streaming" is often proposed, but the word "torrent" never appears in the suggested list.

So, if they are implementing the policy announced last December, that implementation differs by country and, within Italy at least, differs by your choice of infringement method.

Re:Poor cop-out (4, Insightful)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728406)

Google defended themselves by saying that they shouldn't be held responsible for the output of an algorithm that they created. That's weak.

You left out the key part regarding searches from users. The output is determined by the input, the input is dictated by users.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

frinkster (149158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728482)

Google defended themselves by saying that they shouldn't be held responsible for the output of an algorithm that they created. That's weak.

You left out the key part regarding searches from users. The output is determined by the input, the input is dictated by users.

And in America, Google has a blacklist of words that are never included in their autocomplete results. They knew this kind of stuff would happen.

Re:Poor cop-out (2, Interesting)

frinkster (149158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728532)

Replying to my own post:

The Google Blacklist [2600.com]

Obviously, all you have to do is hit return to get the results like you always could. However, even when your request isn't blacklisted, you're not getting the SAME results that you would get by hitting return. Entering "murder" into the search bar and hitting a space gets you suggestions of mostly band names. It's only after you hit return that you can learn the other sinister meaning of the word. What we have here is a demonstration of how content can be filtered, controlled, and ultimately suppressed. It is indeed a good thing that Google isn't evil.

The algorithm was designed to keep this stuff from happening. This case was nothing more than a simple oversight on Google's part. Their response was poor and arrogant.

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728800)

Not censoring possibly factual suggestions like "con man" or "fraudster" is not an oversight -- that's the type of politically-correct buried truth censorship we'd expect from Microsoft or Apple.

Next somebody's going to sue Wikipedia for listing a 'controversy' section on their article page. Fuck objectivity and all that nonsense. Think happy thoughts!

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728946)

I'm confused. I'm under the impression that there is an algorithm that fits these recommendations due common content. If the recommendations are being returned, then there is common content.

Now, common content can be due to 2 thangs: Basis in lots of TRUTHFUL articles (in which case, the less than admirable reputation is actually a fact and thus not libel) or it's based on lots of FALSFIED articles (Arguably not libel because Google didn't write the words, they merely formed them based on the articles and their suggestions are merely suggestions, not statements claiming to be fact).

Anyways, Google CAN censor. This doesn't mean they SHOULD. Also I'm not certain you have shown that they have a responsibility to do so.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728684)

Google defended themselves by saying that they shouldn't be held responsible for the output of an algorithm that they created. That's weak.

You left out the key part regarding searches from users. The output is determined by the input, the input is dictated by users.

And in America, Google has a blacklist of words that are never included in their autocomplete results. They knew this kind of stuff would happen.

They filtered out stuff that more than likely is going to direct the user to illegal content, that obviously isn't the case in this situation.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

SilentChasm (998689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729176)

The problem is now they have a filtering solution, but they weren't using it well enough.

It would be like an ISP setting up a copyright infringement filter and having it not block everything that's infringing. The blame gets shifted to the ISP for not doing enough.

By modifying the computer generated results to remove keywords they show they can do it but they aren't doing it.

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35729416)

Perhaps that's because the two queries,
- SilentChasm's compilation of ripped porno films; and
- SilentChasm guilty of rape

...are two very different expressions which fall neither under the same ethical boundaries or the same law chapters.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

njhunter (613589) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728568)

Except Google killed themselves by editing certain material (i.e. anything that deals with Islam).

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728412)

No judge or jury would think that Google did it on purpose

You seem to think that Italian judges use sanity in their decisions. The law does not permit sanity, but requires strict adherence...
PS: This case was not judged by a jury.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

arikol (728226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728436)

what about google showing what input the algorithm had for it to give this output?

Algorithms generally don't make stuff up, I'm guessing that maybe, just maybe, some people have been calling that man a scoundrel, a con man and a fraud. THOSE people would then be responsible for their words, because unless he IS a con man, then calling him one is defamation

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728440)

What? Do you know what would happen if they said that? Every special interest group in the world would have google censor everything that exists.

This isn't an algorithm they created, this is essentially their end product. So of course they should not be liable for what comes out of that. What they should be doing however, is trying to find a way to watch for abuses, but that is not really something that is their job, and more something they should do simply to improve quality of the results.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728466)

Google defended themselves by saying that they shouldn't be held responsible for the output of an algorithm that they created.

Yes! That's the crux of the matter. This decision is not some Luddite rejection of the internet, nor merely holding someone liable for citing an offending publication (as the links to infringing copies == infringing copies reasoning does), but merely holding someone responsible for what they themselves publish.

It does not matter in this case that Google didn't write the defamatory material out "by hand," nor that the data upon which their automated publication was based was not their own. The point is they made their own publication (recklessly, as it turns out) based upon that other data, as you say, by means of an algorithm they themselves created.

Tough to be held responsible for the outcome of one's own actions, ain't it?

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

3vi1 (544505) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728580)

Associating words in an algorithm to find the next most likely word is not the equivalent to making a statement. It's not defamation.

Google never said "soandso is a con-man", they just offered a service that knows "When people type that name, the most likely associated term is usually con-man".

The court is not thinking this through far enough, or just completely ignorant.

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728794)

Last time I checked, the feature was not called "People suggest". Perhaps Google should consider renaming it.

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728600)

We can also look at it this way: Google's Algorithm tells people what words are most frequently associated to another word. Basically it said this guy's name is often associated to 'Fraud' and similar words, it did not say the guy was a fraud. That's not defamation, it's simply information. With this ruling the press now should never report on defamation cases again:
Journalist: Mr Whatever is being called a Fraud on the Internet
Italian Judge: Hey, that's defamation, you can't tell people about this.

Seriously, it's a fucking algorithm, it doesn't have the sentience required to know what an insult is. As for Google - They never even made their Algorithm more likely to 'defame' a particular nutbag than anyone else, everyone is just as likely to have their name associated to 'Fraud' if people start calling them that on the Internet. The algorithm simply tells you what topics people associate to something, no need to give it more meaning. If the algorithm returned "Mr Whatever must die" would he be suing Google because he felt threatened by the algorithm?
There, case closed.

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728950)

Exactly. The suggestion, "AC is a fraud" is a fact, even if the AC being a fraud isn't an established fact.

Similarly, the suggestion "Obama was born in Kenya" is a fact - because that's what people are entering - even though it has been completely disproven.

Re:Poor cop-out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728742)

i thought it was illegal on slashdot to personify corporations.

Re:Poor cop-out (1)

eyrieowl (881195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729096)

That's just idiotic. By that rubric, they should also be liable if something comes up in the search results that someone deems offensive. Because they're "publishing" the search results and the titles of all the pages found. Your logic means search engines can't exist. Congratulations on finding a way to ruin the internet.

You aren't supposed to lie in court. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729374)

They should have said "Crap, we screwed up. We'll fix it right away."

But it's impossible to fix. Software isn't cable of discerning "truth", so no algorithm can tell you if something is libel or not.

Oh FFS! (1, Troll)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728362)

Oh... Italian court judges.... Well you know what SPQR means - Sono Pazzi Questi Romani (These Romans are crazy)

Re:Oh FFS! (2)

hldn (1085833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728806)

romanes eunt domus

romanes eunt domus? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35729122)

[Brian is writing graffiti on the palace wall. The Centurion catches him in the act]

Centurion: What's this, then? "Romanes eunt domus"? People called Romanes, they go, the house?

Brian: It says, "Romans go home. "

Centurion: No it doesn't ! What's the latin for "Roman"? Come on, come on !

Brian: Er, "Romanus" !

Centurion: Vocative plural of "Romanus" is?

Brian: Er, er, "Romani" !

Centurion: [Writes "Romani" over Brian's graffiti] "Eunt"? What is "eunt"? Conjugate the verb, "to go" !

Brian: Er, "Ire". Er, "eo", "is", "it", "imus", "itis", "eunt".

Centurion: So, "eunt" is...?

Brian: Third person plural present indicative, "they go".

Centurion: But, "Romans, go home" is an order. So you must use...?

[He twists Brian's ear]

Brian: Aaagh ! The imperative !

Centurion: Which is...?

Brian: Aaaagh ! Er, er, "i" !

Centurion: How many Romans?

Brian: Aaaaagh ! Plural, plural, er, "ite" !

Centurion: [Writes "ite"] "Domus"? Nominative? "Go home" is motion towards, isn't it?

Brian: Dative !

[the Centurion holds a sword to his throat]

Brian: Aaagh ! Not the dative, not the dative ! Er, er, accusative, "Domum" !

Centurion: But "Domus" takes the locative, which is...?

Brian: Er, "Domum" !

Centurion: [Writes "Domum"] Understand? Now, write it out a hundred times.

Brian: Yes sir. Thank you, sir. Hail Caesar, sir.

Centurion: Hail Caesar ! And if it's not done by sunrise, I'll cut your balls off.

For Autocompleteness (2)

Gonzoisme (1023685) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728380)

It seems that 'con man' no longer auto completes for me. I guess I will have to go back to pressing that tiresome enter key.

clearly their hiring standards took a nosedive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728408)

on April 1 when they rushed to hire auto-trade-in deals^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcompleters.

Let me guess who it was... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728418)

Berlusconi?

How about Google does this.... (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728446)

  1. Geolocate source ip addresses.
  2. If the IP accessing Google search is an italy IP, turn off the 'autocomplete function'
  3. On every search form and result page, display an orange box with the following text:
  4. We regret to inform you, that your Google search experience due to the actions of Carlo Piana and by order of the court of Milan. The auto complete function has been disabled for the residents of Italy, due to autocomplete results raising claims of defamation.
    If you would like to improve your Google search experience, we encourage you to write to your local member of parliament.

Re:How about Google does this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728732)

Or not. Slander is slander, if you make a loophole for people who can wrap the slander into an algorithm (keep in mind with a footprinted database to search on I could write an algorithm that would slander a specific set of people and no others quite easily, as could most half decent developers - depending how loosely an algorithm is defined it might not even take more than 30 seconds to write and debug) you make it legal - this has to be something they are accountable for or the next .com boom will be the opposite of those crappy .com PR companies that SEO people's names.

Re:How about Google does this.... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728890)

Slander is slander, if you make a loophole for people who can wrap the slander into an algorithm...you make it legal

A reasonable point, but whether this is, in fact, slander is far from clear cut. Google's autocomplete function isn't saying (or even implying) that "x is a fraud" is a factual statement, it's saying that "x is a fraud" is a string of words being searched for regularly. That's a very significant difference, which seems to be going somewhat under the radar here.

Re:How about Google does this.... (1)

theycallmeB (606963) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728756)

If you would like to improve your Google search experience, we encourage you to write to your local member of parliament.

And surely Google would then be charged with sedition and fomenting revolution.

Re:How about Google does this.... (0)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728810)

And surely Google would then be charged with sedition and fomenting revolution.

At which point, Google could defiantly say "viva la revolution"

And from then on, ignore anything the Italian government has to say; while making sure it has no assets located in Italy.

Re:How about Google does this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728816)

Unfortunately the response would be. Va fanculo and Berlusconi is much too busy wetting his fingers on 18 year olds

sounds (0)

bstender (1279452) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728452)

Berlusconi-esque

Berlusconi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728642)

Time to implement the streisand protocol.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728678)

Also, Google should be liable for defamation that occurs on its Blogger service. Don't be evil my ass.

Re:Good! (1)

bstender (1279452) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729476)

Google as big brother, good?

See the sig (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728790)

I hope no translation is necessary... But I'm sure you can Google it.

Re:See the sig (1)

squeeze69 (756427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728880)

No, for God' sake, this is not a bearable italian. And, it's unfair. Politics in -every- nation is a "quite" dirty thing, but not a crime. And, PLEASE, don't put a signature in a foreign language if you don't know the grammar, even the basic one.

Re:See the sig (0)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728922)

It's merely a direct quote. And is indeed quite true. Save it for somebody who gives a damn...

Huh, weird... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35728832)

That's odd. I typed "Italy" into Google's search bar, and the only autocomplete suggestion it has is "Italy is full of douchebag assholes"

Share and Enjoy (1)

downundarob (184525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35728876)

Perhaps the Italian Justice System should 'go stick its head in a pig'.

And the next logical step... (2)

quickgold192 (1014925) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729014)

Well what if searching for this his name on Google results in the top 10 hits being titled along the lines of "This dude is a con man and a fraud!!"? Is Google responsible for *that* algorithm? After all, the autocomplete algorithm is just another search algorithm, except instead of searching through pages it searches through past inputs.

This is ridiculous (1)

makubesu (1910402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729110)

the italian courts couldn't possible rule against google... unless... *types Berlusconi into google*... I see.

More trouble than they are worth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35729118)

This is the same country that pressed charges against google execs because someone posted a video some kids picking on a mentally handicapped kid. Their outdated legal system may make it cheaper for google just to block the whole country at this point.

Italian Justice (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729314)

Italian Justice == Oxymoron.

Holy Cow! Amanda Knox *was* innocent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35729404)

just sayin'...

Googles Lawyer supposed to be good??? (1)

dRn-1 (732935) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729460)

FTA: "Google lost its bid to claim the protection of the E-Commerce Directive's safe harbour provisions, which partly shields hosting and ISPs from liability for content held on or transmitted over their systems."

Obviously the suggestions shown were generated by Google and transmitted over it's network, as opposed to indexed content not owned by Google. So know wonder Google lost, maybe the lawyer(s) should have argued that the content produced by the auto complete feature is solely based on data supplied by it's users and the internet, maybe the same way a newspaper generates headlines based on what sells!.

Seriuously WTF? (0)

Baseclass (785652) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729608)

Complete and utter bullshit.
I really hate how society has evolved.
Everyone's a complete and utter pussy incapable of rolling with the punches.

Sometimes I just wish an asteroid would smash into the Earth and send us back to a simpler time.

No smoke without fire (1)

drgregoryhouse (1909704) | more than 3 years ago | (#35729644)

How about google try to prove that the person is indeed a con man and fraud, probably peddling fake degrees. Show them the power of the internet!

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