Autocompletion brings liability

I don't know how, but the cat was out of the bag even before I had full details of it. An order of the Court of Milano confirmed with an unusually detailed opinion another order of the same Court imposing Google to filter out libelous "search suggestions". I am lead counsel in the litigation, so it is inappropriate for me to go into details or to praise the order. All I have to say is that it is by no means an endorsement to censorship, as notice to the sued company was given well in advance, the alligations of the complainant were fully discussed with them before even considering to go to court, and the requests was and is only for a very exceptional set of string (two). All cases are different, therefore there is no assurance that similar cases would see the same outcome.

I would be falsely modest if I said that I am not proud that our pleadings have been entirely endorsed by a panel of three highly authoritative judges. The facts are simple and very well described in the order. Basically, typing in the Google search field "Name Surname" of my client, the autocompletion and the "suggested searches" (now "related searches") offered to complete it with "con man" ("truffatore") and "fraud" ("truffa"), which caused a lot of trouble to the client, who has a pulic image both as an entrepeneur and provider of educational services in the field of personal finance. Google argued that it could not be held liable because it is a hosting provider, but we showed that this is content produced by them (and by the way, they do filter out certain content, including terms that are know to be used to distribute copyright infringing material), although through automated means. Therefore in this case the search engine cannot avail itself of the safe harbour provision of the Ecommerce Directive.

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