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French Court Frowns On Autocomplete, Tells Google To Remove Searches

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the la-coste-has-an-esalligator dept.

Google 343

New submitter Lexx Greatrex writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "Google had been sued by insurance company Lyonnaise de Garantie, which was offended by search results including the word 'escroc,' meaning crook, according to a story posted Tuesday by the Courthouse News Service. 'Google had argued that it was not liable since the word, added under Google Suggest, was the result of an automatic algorithm and did not come from human thought,' the article states. 'A Paris court ruled against Google, however, pointing out that the search engine ignored requests to remove the offending word... In addition to the fine, Google must also remove the term from searches associated with Lyonnaise de Garantie.'"

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What if... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616514)

Can it be added back in later if we find out that they really are crooks?

Re:What if... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616674)

What do you mean "if we find out"? This is an insurance company...

Re:What if... (2)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617432)

For profit insurance companies always lose in comparison to mutual companies.That profit margin has got to come from somewhere.

Re:What if... (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617028)

Pretty much. File this under "the Streisand Effect".

Re:What if... (3, Insightful)

fatphil (181876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617420)

A self-requested google bomb, n'est pas?

Search engines henceforth will now be obliged to associate Lyonnaise de Garantie and crooks, for if they don't they wouldn't be very good search engines. Even if it isn't true that Lyonnaise de Garantie are crooks, they're definitely idiots.

I refuse to take part in any such gaming, clearly.

Re:What if... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617376)

Well, we'll never find out now, seeing as all Google's results refer back to zillions of copies of this news story.
In all seriousness though, the original reason behind this dispute (before it involved Google) is that it's the company's policy to never pay out unless people are willing to go through the courts. So you've got an insurance policy that looks good on paper, but it doesn't factor in that you'll be down about €5000 or so on lawyer fees and get your payment two year's late. The term crook is actually quite appropriate here, since Lyonnaise de Garantie is as a matter of company policy infringing contract law.

Censorship. (2)

sidthegeek (626567) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616520)

Corporate origin. Government sponsorship. Plain and simple.

Re:Censorship. (0, Troll)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616646)

Monopolies are held to different standards of the law by governments, in order to ensure fair competition. If the monopoly search engine is calling a business bad names, algorithmically or not, well, apparently France believes that's not fair competition.

Re:Censorship. (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616816)

Monopolies are held to different standards of the law by governments, in order to ensure fair competition. If the monopoly search engine is calling a business bad names, algorithmically or not, well, apparently France believes that's not fair competition.

Search engines do not call business bad names.
They don't call anything.

Search engines simply index the content of pages, and words that appear together on said pages. If thousands of sites routinely place one word next to another how is that Google's problem? Why not go after the web pages that were used to build the search database?

When I googled the quoted phrase "overly critical guy" and appended the word idiot, I came up with a page someone posted about you. Is this something google did? Is a court order in the offing?

Re:Censorship. (5, Interesting)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617032)

Search engines do not call business bad names.
They don't call anything.

I'm not advocating the decision of the court (and so the downloads of my post are just weird), I'm simply explaining why they made the decision. The search engine did call a business a bad name--it associated a negative term with the name of the business. If Google was just another search engine, nobody would care, but they're practically the gateway to the web and the #1 way that people find information about things.

Remember when Microsoft instituted a browser ballot? But they listed them in alphabetical order, and so Opera complained about their placement on the list, forcing Microsoft to randomize the order? Microsoft could have argued that they weren't placing the browsers in any sort of priority list, and that it was the order of the alphabet that placed them that way, but that wasn't the point--the courts decided that Microsoft's influence was so huge that, regardless of the reason, the list was biased against browsers that placed lower than others alphabetically.

The same is true here. Google didn't intervene and call anybody names, but their influence is so huge and dominant that the court has decided it is a violation of free market competition for it to libel (as they perceive it) a business. I'm not advocating any position; I'm just explaining why Google is being held to such a unique standard, just as Microsoft was.

Re:Censorship. (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617056)

downloads

Meant "downmods." Damn autocorrect.

Re:Censorship. (1, Funny)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617482)

Clearly you need to sue Goggle/Apple!

Re:Censorship. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617242)

The search engine did call a business a bad name--it associated a negative term with the name of the business.

It didn't create the association, it merely discovered it.

Re:Censorship. (2)

MichaelKristopeit502 (2018076) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617352)

it didn't discover it, it defined the prerequisite terms of association by using human thought... terms that are so non-trivial that they are considered trade secrets and not disclosed to the public.

Lyonnaise de Garantie don't 'get' the Intarwebz (4, Funny)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617514)

Lyonnaise de Garantie is the problem here, not the French government. Sure, this is a bad ruling, but that happens all the time in court systems. Simply put, they are trying to litigate away someone's opinion of them. I find this sort of behavior to be the most base form of bullying, and I feel obligated to contribute to the 'Streisand Effect'...

In my opinion, the French firm Lyonnaise de Garantie [lyonnaise-...rantie.com] to a man, are worse than crooks. They are the most foul and debase degenerates, slime of the lowest order. Fuck them, they are pox on the world and a waste of air. To call them a pack of worthless cunts would bring shame to roving packs of worthless cunts. Jean-Luc Berho, the VP of the company cannot bring himself to orgasm without unless he chokes a dog to death. Jean-Jacques Olivié, the president of that slithering pack of reptilians, cannot be trusted not to accidentally choke himself to death if left unattended with a stale croissant. May he catch syphilis from a drunken Armenian mule. Insurance frauds could learn something from these thieves, as could lamprey and other tubular blood sucking vermin.

But, hey, I could be wrong. After all, it is just an opinion.

Re:Censorship. (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616994)

But the search engine is just impartially pulling, indexing, and presenting existing information. If Google's auto complete says X is bad, then that's because the web crawler came across the phrase enough times on web resources that ranked high enough. So really, many other people are saying. Also, google does not have a monopoly on search engines, as that is not a service it sells. Google's business is in online advertisement, which it is not a monopoly (although it does have a massive chunk of the industry). So the "higher standards", which I agree should be applied to their advertising department, doesn't fit with their search engine or it's algorithms.

Slashdot, Google, monopoly, and moderation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617252)

Also, google does not have a monopoly on search engines, as that is not a service it sells. Google's business is in online advertisement, which it is not a monopoly (although it does have a massive chunk of the industry).

Google most definitely has a monopoly in web advertising...it's why they're being investigated in Europe for antitrust. The DOJ lead who went after Microsoft ten years ago considers Google a monopoly, and Eric Schmidt told the U.S. Senate that Google was "in the area" of being a monopoly. I think there's so much resistance to admitting it on Slashdot because "monopoly!" was an anti-Microsoft rallying cry for so many years, and to put Google in the same boat kind of stings a little.

I have to say, though, that watching the moderators attack anyone who even dares utter the words "monopoly" and "Google" in the same sentence is both amusing and sad. How many ongoing investigations are there of Google right now, particularly in Europe? I mean, come on. It's not trolling to point out that Google is friggin' huge.

Re:Censorship. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616648)

Corporate origin. Government sponsorship. Plain and simple.

So? All that matters is if Google broke French law.

Re:Censorship. (4, Interesting)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616740)

Corporate origin. Government sponsorship. Plain and simple.

So? All that matters is if Google broke French law.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around how something like this is a matter of law. I'm reminded of the South Park "Nigger Guy" episode. Is it, in France, unlawful to say "Lyonnaise de Garantie" within three words of "escroc"? Are there other variations which are also unlawful? Can they throw one in prison before telling them they broke the law? How far will this go?

Re:Censorship. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617254)

Is it, in France, unlawful to say "Lyonnaise de Garantie" within three words of "escroc"? Are there other variations which are also unlawful? Can they throw one in prison before telling them they broke the law? How far will this go?

That's for the French to decide for themselves.

Re:Censorship. (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616862)

The story is about how a judge interprets french law in favor of a governmentally sponsored company.

I'm quite certain there is nothing in French law that states search engines must make sure the pages they index do not contain a name and an insult on the same page.

So quick to believe anything bad about Google.

Re:Censorship. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616978)

Libel

Re:Censorship. (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617296)

If it's true, it's not libel. Even in France.

What's the odds that Sarkozy has some stake in the company?

Re:Censorship. (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617066)

Sometimes the law is unjust. We used to be able to complain about such things and get them changed.

Re:Censorship. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617104)

Unless you are a French citizen or live in France you have no right to complain.

Re:Censorship. (2)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617002)

Demanding that a service provider not automatically slander you is not censorship. Google's white-washing of their control over the algorithms is bullshit. I seriously doubt it's hard for them to flag a word that should NEVER come up during a search; they certainly can ensure through AdWords that a word ALWAYS flags a particular result.

Re:Censorship. (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617132)

Demanding that a service provider not automatically slander you is not censorship. .

Yes, it is. How on Earth can you make the violence monopoly telling Google "this you may not say!" to not be censorship?

Re:Censorship. (5, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617138)

Then the solution is to remove "Lyonnaise de Garantie" from the search engine all together. Wipe them off any search result what-so-ever. Nothing in French law requires Google to index any site...

Re:Censorship. (3, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617208)

Then I believe they lose their "no human interaction" protection. Of course, that protection seems to be worthless now anyways so....

Re:Censorship. (3, Interesting)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617318)

They are forced to provide human interaction so no. And even if they removed crook what's to stop fraud or theft or who knows what from algorithmically being pulled up after "Lyonnaise de Garantie". The only rational choice is to remove "Lyonnaise de Garantie" as they cannot anticipate searches that might offend this company in the future, and manually remove them.

I'm sure... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616526)

...many other here will say it, but what would the French Court say if Google simply removed Lyonnaise de Garantie's website from *all* their results....

Re:I'm sure... (-1, Troll)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616588)

Likely, the French Court is holding Google to a unique standard because they are a monopoly in web search, and they inadvertently have influence over the success of other businesses and industries.

Re:I'm sure... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616820)

FOR FUCK'S SAKE STOP POSTING THIS MONOPOLY CRAP. You're the only one pushing it, and it certainly hasn't been established as a fact in any court I've heard of. If it *had*, Microsoft would be all over it...

A monopoly means more than just "has a lot of market share". Try reading up on it before you start throwing it around.

Re:I'm sure... (-1, Troll)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617130)

Are you for real? And who modded you up and me down? Google is absolutely a monopoly in web search. It doesn't matter if I'm the "only one pushing it" on Slashdot (which isn't true).

A monopoly means more than just "has a lot of market share". Try reading up on it before you start throwing it around.

Monopoly means "the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service." Google is the dominant search engine as well as the dominant web advertiser. It is most definitely a monopoly. But if you and the moderators don't believe me, how about the words of Eric Schmidt [businessinsider.com] , who said in response to the question of whether Google is in a position that would subject it to monopoly rules: "We're in that area."

They're a monopoly.

Re:I'm sure... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617168)

They're not stopping anyone from using another search engine. They just may be better, so people use their services more likely, because they may be better.

They're not stopping anyone from using another ad network. They just may be better, so people use their services more likely, because they may be better.

I recall a monopoly deliberately goes out of their way to make it impossible, literally, for others to enter the market. Last I heard, Bing and Yahoo were still being used to find stuff.

Re:I'm sure... (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617508)

All nice and fine, but I guess we can agree that Google has a dominant market position in search engines, much like MS has/had in operating systems. Them deciding to delist a company means that a sizable portion of traffic to them is lost.

In a situation like this it doesn't really matter whether it is a "real" monopoly, even an oligopoly is bad enough. Imagine Google, Yahoo and Bing shared the market at 1/3 each. In such a case, either of them deciding to delist a company means a serious blow to traffic, even though neither of them has even 50% market share, let alone a monopoly position.

Search engines are not like your everyday oligopoly like oil, gas or power. Because everything is in reverse. An oil company deciding to not deliver to your country anymore doesn't really matter much, because you do not need oil from all of them. Just one will do. It's not that way here. You need the traffic, i.e. the users finding you in a search, from all of them, losing one is already a problem. The impact would be felt even if Bing or Yahoo decided to pull such a stunt, albeit maybe to a lesser degree than when a dominant engine like Google did it.

So, no, it's not a monopoly in the classic sense. But this isn't a classic case either.

Re:I'm sure... (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617294)

Are you for real? And who modded you up and me down? Google is absolutely a monopoly in web search. It doesn't matter if I'm the "only one pushing it" on Slashdot (which isn't true).

A monopoly means more than just "has a lot of market share". Try reading up on it before you start throwing it around.

Monopoly means "the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service." Google is the dominant search engine as well as the dominant web advertiser. It is most definitely a monopoly. But if you and the moderators don't believe me, how about the words of Eric Schmidt [businessinsider.com] , who said in response to the question of whether Google is in a position that would subject it to monopoly rules: "We're in that area."

They're a monopoly.

Google has only 65% of the market share. That hardly sounds like a monopoly. Sure, they are the dominant player, but there are alternatives and switching to a different search provider has little friction, it's not like changing operating systems.

In comparison, Microsoft owns 80 - 90% of the operating system market (based on web client statistics)

Re:I'm sure... (1, Redundant)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617446)

Overly Critical Guy wrote:

Monopoly means "the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service." Google is the dominant search engine as well as the dominant web advertiser.

Fucktard

=================

English comprehension test: Circle and connect the bolded words/phrases above that are synonyms. ( 1 mark; 3 minutes )

P.S. (3, Funny)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617150)

FOR FUCK'S SAKE STOP POSTING THIS MONOPOLY CRAP. You're the only one pushing it, and it certainly hasn't been established as a fact in any court I've heard of. If it *had*, Microsoft would be all over it...

By the way, I forgot to mention this in the last post, but Samuel Miller, the DOJ prosecutor who went after Microsoft also considers them a monopoly [cnn.com] . So your statement about Microsoft is somewhat amusing in restrospect.

Re:P.S. (1)

electron sponge (1758814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617464)

FOR FUCK'S SAKE STOP POSTING THIS MONOPOLY CRAP. You're the only one pushing it, and it certainly hasn't been established as a fact in any court I've heard of. If it *had*, Microsoft would be all over it...

By the way, I forgot to mention this in the last post, but Samuel Miller, the DOJ prosecutor who went after Microsoft also considers them a monopoly [cnn.com] . So your statement about Microsoft is somewhat amusing in restrospect.

Yeah, well, that's like, his opinion, man.

Also, I'd characterize your argument here as a fallacious appeal to authority.

Re:I'm sure... (2)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617292)

Actually, whether or not something is a monopoly is very dependent on whatever the court decides to say it is.

Gotta love definition by fiat.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617378)

Size don't enter into it, my good man. See, libel is libel irrespective of whether the newspaper/TV station has ten viewers/readers or ten bleedin' million.

And if it ain't libel, it ain't libel and that's it.

Either way, this attempted ban probably contravenes EU laws on freedom of speech, competition and maybe consumer protection.

Re:I'm sure... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617528)

Size don't enter into it, my good man. See, libel is libel irrespective of whether the newspaper/TV station has ten viewers/readers or ten bleedin' million.

Was it intentional on your end that when I read that, I heard it in John Cleese's high-pitched "snooty" voice

Re:I'm sure... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616934)

The insurance company *actively allowed* Googles spider to search it. The spider won't look at the site unless the site has a robots.txt file that allows web crawlers to index it. Google will help the company remove the robots.txt file, and if that is not satisfactory to the company, then Google can remove all links and indexes to the company. No one will be able to find it. Google does not have a monopoly on search. Ask mickeysoft and they will be quick to tell you that their bong (or is it bung) web service has between 15% and 28% of the total worldwide search engine business!!! So the company can go out with a bang(?) if it wants to. I realize what the company is demanding of Google is akin to asking the weather forecasting people to have all the air streaming past their window smell like Roses, oh, and to have it rain only during the week days but not on weekends. Oh, and also having all mail delivered to the company picked up by one person only and driven from where its picked up directly to the company by that same person. The courts ruling is in short, well beyond unreasonable.

Re:I'm sure... (4, Informative)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617074)

This has happened before. Google were sued over much the same thing, removed *ALL* references to the company in question and were then sued again for not including them.

In the US too, at least as an option (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616534)

Every time someone rolls out something horrible like this they think it's a wunnerful thing. Well, not tal all of us. I find this stuff causes me to make typos far more often in searches, because of the distraction.

Re:In the US too, at least as an option (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616574)

Have you tried NoScript?

Re:In the US too, at least as an option (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616748)

Have you tried NoScript?

Have to set it up in many places. I just wish "features" like autocomplete were disabled on default and the user was left to decide what they wanted to enable to enhance their experience. I find good ol' Google is getting on my nerves more often than not.

They should adopt as a motto: Just because we can, should we?

The French are such prudes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616540)

Who woulda thunk it.

Show some balls google (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616546)

Show some balls google.

Disable everything that is google in France for 1 day and blame it on the court. In 3-6 weeks, when you have a valid fix, silently put that in.

Re:Show some balls google (2)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616916)

Yes, Google. Cut off all of your ad revenue and break every Android phone in France for a day. And see who that hurts worse between Google and France.

Simple Solution (5, Insightful)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616552)

Whenever French users search for "Lyonnaise de Garantie," Google should just return "Your search - Lyonnaise de Garantie - did not match any documents." And then a list of competing insurance companies.

There! Problem solved!

Re:Simple Solution (1)

EdmundSS (264957) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616658)

Even better, a crowd-sourced Google Bomb...

Re:Simple Solution (-1, Flamebait)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616676)

France would likely consider that an even bigger monopoly abuse. The key here is to remember that Google is completely dominant in web search and has enormous influence over the success and failure of entities in the market.

Apple Troll Overly Critical Guy/bonch/etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616888)

Hey look! It's another one of Apple Troll bonch's alt accounts?

http://slashdot.org/~bonch [slashdot.org]
http://slashdot.org/~Overly%20Critical%20Guy [slashdot.org] ...

Re:Apple Troll Overly Critical Guy/bonch/etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617192)

The parent post is written by NicknameOne [slashdot.org] /Galestar [slashdot.org] /flurp [slashdot.org] , a crazed anti-Apple troll who thinks EVERYONE is part of a conspiracy if they're even remotely critical of his employer, Google. If you look through his posting history, you see he even admits to using open proxies.

Re:Simple Solution (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616774)

Whenever French users search for "Lyonnaise de Garantie," Google should just return "Your search - Lyonnaise de Garantie - did not match any documents." And then a list of competing insurance companies.

There! Problem solved!

Did you really mean Mayonnaise?

Re:Simple Solution (3, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617084)

Well if enough stories about this get posted to the web that mention the fact that Lyonnaise de Garantie didn't want its name associated with "escroc" - then google will end up indexing a ton of instances where Lyonnaise de Garantie's name is associated with "escroc". In fact it may be enough instances of "escroc" being associated with Lyonnaise de Garantie, to "guarantee" (pun intended) that it turns up as a common result. I hope this story gets great coverage.

Leglislating search results is just hopeless.

France (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616558)

Who gives a crap what those commies think? I frown on hairy armpits, tell les femmes to remove that nasty.

Remove them from google indexes entirely. (4, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616564)

You want corporate censorship? You got it. Be careful what you wish for.

Re:Remove them from google indexes entirely. (5, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616670)

Didn't they do that a few years ago with some papers and such from Belgium, and then they came screaming back about it when their sites dropped around 80% of their traffic? I'm sure I read that here on /. a few days ago, well considering my memory it could have been a few years ago too.

Re:Remove them from google indexes entirely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617068)

I suppose Google could clean out the searches with SOPA.

Re:Remove them from google indexes entirely. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617070)

It's worse. Google was merely complying with a court order--sought by these newspapers themselves--to either pay the newspapers, or stop indexing them. Then, these newspapers lost 80% of their traffic, and decided to grant Google "permission" to disobey the court order they had just won at great expense.

Re:Remove them from google indexes entirely. (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617426)

Would've been sweet if Google decided to do no evil and heed the verdict to the letter. Sorry, can't do that, the judge has spoken.

But you may start a lengthy process to nullify that verdict and piss off the court for wasting their time. And if you still exist by the time you have it canceled, we'll put you back on the index.

Strange. Usually I'm not in favor of monopolies abusing their position...

hmm (2)

BeTeK (2035870) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616580)

I have a thought. Google can block France completely...

Blocking France Completely (1)

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617534)

I was going to suggest something similar: remove their physical footprint from that bizarre regime's jurisdiction & put a 'Sorry' page up in place of Google.fr. (French users could go to another French-language-centric Google incarnation, and Google could still index France-specific results from elsewhere.)

"Lyonnaise de Garantie crooks" (5, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616600)

I don't know whether Lyonnaise de Garantie are crooks, but this is the mother of Streisand effects.

A Simple Solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616628)

Simply remove France in its entirety from Google. Surely no one would miss it?

But are they? (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616684)

Crooks, that is? One really has to wonder how many people they had to screw over for this auto-complete suggestion to be show up. That sort of autocomplete result is usually an indication of a fairly large number of people using those words in the same general context. Even now, the sixth suggestion for them ends with problème....

Maybe Google's argument should not have been that Google wasn't responsible, but rather that it's not libel if it is true (I'm assuming that this is the case under French law) or that it is not possible to defame something that is already a disgrace....

More to the point, maybe the company in question should focus more on improving their image by actually improving their customer service instead of just metaphorically wallpapering over the rotting walls. If enough people think they are crooks to cause the Google search results to suggest this for several years in a row, that strongly suggests a very serious problem with the way they do business. I'm not saying that Lyonnaise de Garantie is a bunch of crooks, but they clearly have a serious image problem, and you can't cure that kind of problem by trying to sue people into silence. Doing so can only result in the Streisand Effect.

Re:But are they? (0)

quantaman (517394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616924)

Or it could be a lone customer or disgruntled ex-employee with a grudge, or a quirk in Google's association algorithms.

I don't agree with this decision but it does bring up an interesting point. Say you're running an online store, and through no fault of your own something like this occurs, what do you do? Your business may not have done anything wrong, but depending on how you find customers it could have pretty severe financial consequences, and you may not have the Internet skills to combat whatever story or blog is causing the problem.

I don't know if there's a good solution to this (suing Google certainly isn't it) but I do have some sympathy for companies in this position.

Re:But are they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617240)

Maybe Google's argument should not have been that Google wasn't responsible, but rather that it's not libel if it is true (I'm assuming that this is the case under French law) or that it is not possible to defame something that is already a disgrace....

The original text of the judgement is here: http://www.legalis.net/spip.php?page=jurisprudence-decision&id_article=3303
Google argues that it wasn't libel (french: délit d’injure publique), since it wasn't an expression of human thought. They argue that to publish something is an "intellectual act", and that therefor the auto-complete is not in fact a publication.

The judges obviously didn't agree.

Re:But are they? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617380)

Well, to be fair, all it takes is a story on a board like bash.org or xkcd or something similar that people remember and pull out as an example.

Try it. Type "little bobby" into the google search bar and guess what the first autocomplete result is.

Re:But are they? (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617390)

I'm not saying that Lyonnaise de Garantie is a bunch of crooks

Google now thinks you did.

Well, now the term escroc is relevant (4, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616698)

Now "Lyonnaise de Garantie escroc" is a valid Google term, because I may have heard about this ruling and want to read more about it. So, auto-suggesting as such is highly relevant to me.

Re:Well, now the term escroc is relevant (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616914)

Well that query works in Bing. :)

Sometimes suggestions reveal real public opinion (4, Informative)

BrynM (217883) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616734)

Frankly, I like having the suggestions pop up (and not just for the fun factor). There have been times that a suggested result reveals the truth of something when the marketing and SEO have worked to whitewash the search results themselves. When people run into problems with a product, they will search for their problem rather than the marketing speak. I wish I could give my real examples, but I'm contractually/legally obligated not to. I'll contrive a working one instead (though the contrived one is not as solid as my real examples...).

Contrived example: Pop the words "MS Antivirus" into google search. "MS Antivirus" is a name of a piece of malware posing as security software. For me, the third suggested search is "MS Antivirus malware". Without having that there, the search results for "MS Antivirus" that declare it as malware are all below the fold. The results for "MS Antivirus malware" have the wikipedia entry for the malware itself as the first result.

Re:Sometimes suggestions reveal real public opinio (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617444)

For me, the third suggested search is "MS Antivirus malware". Without having that there, the search results for "MS Antivirus" that declare it as malware are all below the fold. The results for "MS Antivirus malware" have the wikipedia entry for the malware itself as the first result.

Sounds like a limitation of Google's ranking algorithm to me. Shouldn't they fix the ranking, rather than rely on an extral UI layer (aka "suggested search", that may or may not be turned on for a user)?

If you notice incorrect rankings, you should probably report them to Google, so they can tweak the signal weights.

Gold old /. business plan (5, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616746)

1. Do enough bad things that people in your country start adding their word for "crook" to searches with your trademark
2. Sue Google instead of fixing your reputation problem
3. ?????
4. Profit!

All searches associated with them? (1)

margeman2k3 (1933034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616754)

That includes searches like "crook Lyonnaise de Garantie" and "is Lyonnaise de Garantie a crook?".
I'm rather curious to see what Google does.

Re:All searches associated with them? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617340)

Especially with a lot of online magazines probably carrying a story titled something like "Lyonnaise de Garantie sues Google over being being labeled escrocs"...

Bad move... (1)

teknx (2547472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616764)

If that company just ignored it, no one would care. But filing a lawsuit has brought it to the attention of the internets. They are probably going to experience what I call the Santorum effect.

Purely my opinion (5, Funny)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616784)

Are Lyonnaise de Garantie escroc [lyonnaise-...rantie.com] ?

I don't know whether Lyonnaise de Garantie are crooks [lyonnaise-...rantie.com] , but I do know that they tried to censor the web to remove any association between Lyonnaise de Garantie [lyonnaise-...rantie.com] and crooks [lyonnaise-...rantie.com] , or as the French say, Lyonnaise de Garantie [lyonnaise-...rantie.com] and escroc [lyonnaise-...rantie.com] . Which is interesting. I wonder what Ms Streisand in her lovely beach house has to say about it all.

Well done, you've lost a potential customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616788)

I'm French, I didn't even know Lyonnaise de Garantie, and I sure as hell will never subscribe an insurance with them.

Streisand effect in 3... 2... 1... (3, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616846)

So Lyonnaise de Garantie's website no longer shows up on searches for escroc. But I bet a fortune that "Lyonnaise de Garantie sues to stop being called escrocs" news reports will soon be one of the top search results for "escroc".

After all, I doubt the ruling covers news stories written, published and hosted by third parties.

Here's what we should do (3, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616884)

If you're on Facebook, post a new status message "Lyonnaise de Garantie escroc" - be sure it's flagged "Public" rather than "Friends only" or whatever. Tweet it too, if you're so inclined.

Whatever happened to Quaero? (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616904)

The search engine project pushed by the French government?

Re:Whatever happened to Quaero? (1)

broknstrngz (1616893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617146)

It eventually fell off the cliff.

Re:Whatever happened to Quaero? (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617312)

It surrendered. Duh.

Good Fun (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616930)

Just sent some spam via http://www.lyonnaise-de-garantie.com/contact.php [lyonnaise-...rantie.com]
Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC Lyonnaise de Garanti ESCROC

Re:Good Fun (1)

AverageWindowsUser (2537474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617418)

Instead of sending them spam, why don't you tell them that there is something on their site which you don't like and that they better remove it. Let's see if it works both ways. I doubt it.

Re:Good Fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617526)

Their captcha is machine readable just by looking at the image names in the html. Let's whip up a script and really get the spam going.

troll post (0)

fred911 (83970) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616946)

Sorry but..

Fuck the French.

Just my ignorant opinion.

Re:troll post (4, Funny)

BrynM (217883) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617158)

Great Zappa quote for you: "There is no hell... There is only... France."

Why, Santorum really is patriotic! (1)

Almonday (564768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617008)

No, not like that.*

*Well, maybe.

Does Google Suggest "Lyonnaise de Garantie crook"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617078)

Doesn't appear to... Yet.

Be careful what you ask for (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617246)

To prevent escrocs, crook, idiot, fool, and any other negative comment from completing "Lyonnaise de Garantie", Google should remove "Lyonnaise de Garantie" from its autocompleter.

Google bomb (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617306)

in 3, 2, 1...

One Night In Paris (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617310)

I'd like to spend one night in paris (u know what i mean dontcha bahahahha), other than that f$ck france dude it's just a bunch of gay baret wearing people anyway who look down on you and sniff their weird cheese

The defense is a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617326)

Google had argued that it was not liable since the word, added under Google Suggest, was the result of an automatic algorithm and did not come from human thought

That's not true. The autocompleter put those two terms together because many web pages (created from human thought) and/or searches (created from human thought) used those two terms together.

There was human thought, but it wasn't by Google employees, so liability is being misapplied.

crybabies (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617414)

They really need to get a life. If Google offends you then DON'T USE GOOGLE. No one is forcing you.

Is this really what this world is turning into? A bunch of whiny pansies.

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