Courts Say Google's Autocomplete Feature Might Be an Invasion of Privacy

Illustration for article titled Courts Say Google's Autocomplete Feature Might Be an Invasion of Privacy

Google has been ordered by the Tokyo District Court to stop its autocomplete search feature because a man is claiming that it's an invasion of privacy. According to the court, the man has been fired from his job because Google autocompletes his name with crimes he has never committed.


You know Google's autocomplete, it's the Instant Search that tries to anticipate what you want to search by automatically filling out the most popular searches when you type in a word. For example, when you type in Gizmodo, the next words that associate with Giz on google are "gift guide", "iphone 5" and "gallery". That's fine and all but could you imagine if a company searched your name and it said "sex offender" after it? And what if that person wasn't even you? Someone with your name could shame your name all over the Internet.

As for the man who took Google to the Japanese courts, he's been attached to criminal activity through autocomplete even though he's unfamiliar with those crimes. He says that Google's autocomplete feature has made it hard for him to find a job and is ruining his reputation. As of now, Google hasn't turned off its autocomplete feature because it claims that since it's a US company, it won't need to change its policies due to Japanese law. It also feels that the autocomplete feature isn't an invasion of privacy because the search terms aren't manually created, instead it's popping up because the algorithm shows which searches are most popular. [Japan Times]


I think collectively for the world, it would be easier for companies to actually do proper research on its employees instead of just looking what pops up instantly on google.