The Superior Court of Paris has convicted Google of defamation, after a sentenced French rapist found "rape" and "rapist" as suggested terms when searching for himself. Well, duh, right? Except in France, you're still presumed innocent while appealing your case.
The man, currently serving a three year prison term for "corruption of a minor," is appealing the charges, making Google's algorithmic labeling an act of libel. The court has ordered Google to remove the offending auto-suggestions, and implement safeguards that will keep similar pairings from occurring in the future. Google is, naturally, fighting the charges, brushing their hands of the suggested words entirely—"Google does not suggest these terms. All of the queries shown in Autocomplete have been typed previously by other Google users," commented a Google spokesperson.
Whether the guy is a rapist is up to the French courts to decide. But the case does raise an interesting hypothetical, no matter what country you're in. Say you were accused of rape—or any other crime—and then found innocent after appealing. Surely there'd be some residual web history surrounding your case. Is it Google's responsibility to keep your cleared name from being paired with crimes you didn't commit? [Telegraph]