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Google's 'Anti-Semitic' Auto-Complete Feature Spawns Lawsuit in France

Via Hollywood, Esq. I see that the specific information in the image pasted below -- the familiar computer-generated "auto-complete" function on Google -- has now spawned a lawsuit. 

Hollywood, Esq. reports that SOS Racisme, a French organization that fights discrimination, has filed a lawsuit against Google in France because, in anticipating a user's search, Google's search engine's auto-complete box suggests that people such as News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and actor Jon Hamm are Jewish. Lawyers for SOS Racisme argue that "by connecting persons with an often persecuted religious minority, the web giant is overseeing 'the creation of what is probably the biggest Jewish file in history.'" SOS Racisme further complains that Google is presenting its users on a daily basis with "unsolicited and systematic associations" between people such as Murdoch and their Jewishness.

How and why does Google's auto-complete end up connecting the terms "Rupert Murdoch" and
"Jewish?" According to Google, "[a]s you type, Google's algorithm predicts and displays search queries based on other users' search activities and the contents of web pages indexed by Google." These predicted queries are "algorithmically determined based on a number of purely algorithmic factors (including popularity of search terms) without human intervention. The auto-complete data is updated frequently to offer fresh and rising search queries."

With or without "human intervention," SOS Racisme nonetheless alleges in its lawsuit that the presence of the word "Jew" in Google's auto-complete lists violates a French constitutional law against compiling files on people that refer to their ethnicity, PC Mag notes.

Posted by Bruce Carton on May 2, 2012 at 04:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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