French court convicts Google CEO Eric Schmidt of defamation

September 26, 2010: 11:54 AM ET

A French court ruled earlier this month that Google and its CEO Eric Schmidt were liable for the results of an algorithm.

Courtesy Disney/DePatie-Freleng Enterprises

A man convicted of a three year suspended jail sentence for corruption of a minor claimed that when one Googled his name, the terms "rapist" and "satanist" came up in Google's Suggest feature.

That doesn't bode well for his future job prospects. He claims he tried to contact Google to have the terms disassociated with his name to no avail.  Perhaps he could take Eric Schmidt's advice for new adults who should change identities to avoid being associated with what they did as a child.

'Suggest' is a service that gives additional terms for further searching after a query is done.  Those words are based on terms that are grouped on the web and Google's PageRank algorithm.

Those results were likely a manifestation of news reports of the man's crimes and related searches based on those terms.  Google states that the results aren't its responsibility, they are just a manifestation of their computers reporting what's out there on the web.

The French court concluded that the search engine's linking his name to such words was defamatory.  Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Google were ordered to pay €1 settlement plus €5,000 for the man's court costs.  Google was also ordered to take down the results of its algorithm and would be fined daily until such action had been taken.


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