The internet giant Google has reportedly lost a libel lawsuit in which an Italian businessman objected to the terms suggested by Google’s autocomplete tool when his name was typed into the search engine.
The unnamed Italian entrepreneur made a complaint to Google after he ‘Googled’ himself and found that the Google Suggest autocomplete tool offered suggestions such as ‘truffatore’ (conman) and ‘truffa’ (fraud). The businessman, who is believed to work within the field of personal finance, claims that this constituted defamation and affected his public image and work. He subsequently filed a libel lawsuit against Google.
Google responded by saying that the suggested autocomplete terms were calculated using an algorithm based on what users had previously searched for, not by Google itself.
However, the search engine giant has now lost the case, as a court in Milan has upheld the businessman’s complaint. Google released a statement expressing disappointment at the verdict, saying:
“We believe that Google should not be held liable for terms that appear in autocomplete as these are predicted by computer algorithms based on searches from previous users, not by Google itself.”
As Google has now been found liable for defamation, it will need to rely on professional indemnity insurance to cover the costs of compensation.