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Google pays fine in France for autocomplete suggestion

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Google must pay a €50,000 fine in France following a Paris court's Dec. 14 decision to side with a local insurance company upset that the search engine's autocomplete function appeared to associate its name with the French word for "crook," reports The Local, a Sweden-based English newspaper.

Insurance firm Lyonnaise de Garantie sued the search engine giant after finding out that typing its name into the French, Belgian, Canadian, Italian, British and Spanish versions of Google brought up an automated suggestion that included the word "escroc," which means swindler or crook.

Lyonnaise de Garantie, which no doubt like most insurance companies everywhere has no reason whatsoever to be associated with concept of swindling, told a French Court of Appeals it had attempted to have Google remove the autocomplete association, but was rebuffed when told that autocomplete suggestions result from a database of terms people actually use while searching the web.

The French court in its ruling said Google can, or should, exercise "human control over the functionality" adding that absent a delegation of powers, every company head "is personally responsible for the information content that the company, according to his purpose, issues to the public." The fine amounts to approximately $65,000.

A Google spokesperson told Forbes it will pay the fine and has removed autocomplete function for "Lyonnaise de Garantie."

This is not the first time autocomplete has landed Google in trouble with French courts, notes Search Engine Land, stating that the company has been "sued and convicted numerous times over" search suggestions in that country.

For more:
- read the article by The Local
- read the decision of the French Court of appeal on Legalis.net

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