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French Groups Take Google to Court for Suggesting the word “Jew”

Anti-racism groups say automatic function violates French ban on racial grouping
By: Sammy Hudes
Published: May 23rd, 2012 in News » World
Photo illustrationPic: Google France screenshot

A French judge ordered Google to go to mediation on Wednesday in order to resolve a dispute between the internet giant and anti-racism groups regarding the automatic suggested addition of the word, “Jew” to name searches.

The French Jewish students’ union (UEJF) and three groups; SOS Racisme, the Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP) and the International League Against Racism and anti-Semitism (LICRA), argue that Google is unintentionally breaking the law through its autocomplete feature that suggests a search based on previous searches of others.

According to French law, it is illegal to record someone’s ethnicity in a database, the AFP reported.

But because Google France users tend to research whether politicians, actors and other celebrities are Jewish, Google users are “confronted on a daily basis with the unsolicited association of the term ‘Jew’ with the surnames of people with high profiles in the worlds of politics, the media or business,” the groups say.

A Google France spokesman told AFP that search results are “generated completely automatically, based purely on algorithmic criteria that correspond notably with the popularity of web users’ inputs.

“Google does not decide on these requests in a manual way. All requests shown by autocomplete have previously been searched for by users on Google,” said the spokesman.

SOS Racisme’s lawyer Patrick Klugman said the mediation will focus more on “philosophy than law and of technical solutions rather than who is right and who is wrong.”

According to Klugman, the mediator will be former judge Jean-Pierre Matte. The next hearing will take place on June 27.

Related articles: Google, France, racism, Celebrities, Jewish, anti-Semitism, French Jewish students’ union, SOS Racisme, Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples, International League Against Racism and anti-Semitism, Patrick Klugman, Justin Bieber
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