A Paris court has convicted US search engine giant Google and its chief executive Eric Schmidt of defamation over results from its “suggest” function, a French legal affairs website has revealed.
The new function, which suggests options as you type in a word, brought up the words “rapist” and “satanist” when the plaintiff’s name was typed into the search engine, legalis.net reported.
The court ordered Google to make a symbolic payment of one euro in damages and take measures to ensure they could be no repeat of the offence.
The plaintiff in this case had been convicted on appeal to a three-year jail sentence for corruption of a minor, a conviction that was not yet definitive, when he discovered the results on entering his name in a Google search.
The court concluded that the search engine’s linking his name to such words was defamatory.
The court ruled that Google had not showed its good faith in the matter and ordered it to pay 5,000 euros (6,700 dollars) towards the plaintiff’s costs.
A Google spokesman told AFP by email that they would be appealing the ruling.
The statement said that the Google Suggest function simply reflected the most common terms used in the past with words entered, so it was not Google itself that was making the suggestions.