Is Google wholly responsible for its suggestions feature on its “autocomplete” search tool?
Google is saying no, but courts in two nations are thinking otherwise, which may lead to another tech and legal battle for the American giant.
A court in Hong Kong recently ruled that Albert Yeung Sau-shing, a key figure in the Emperor Group corporation, can file a suit against Google for defamation due to the “autocomplete” feature that links him to criminal activities.
Typing in “albert yeung” in Google’s own search box, in Chinese or English, showcases suggested search options that includes “albert yeung triad” --- an unnecessary referral to a criminal organization in China.
Google defended itself by saying it never publishes autocomplete suggestions. The feature functions based on user searches, and that the firm is nothing but a “passive facilitator” of such search results.
But Judge Marlene Ng of the High Court rejected the notion, saying that company’s algorithms are all about ‘reconstituting and synthesizing” information from consumers and then putting them out as suggestions.