Citation record for Incident 75

Suggested citation format

Pownall, Charlie. (2012-01-05) Incident Number 75. in McGregor, S. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Partnership on AI. Retrieved on September 22, 2021 from incidentdatabase.ai/cite/75.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
75
1
2012-01-05

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CSET Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Full Description

The organizations SOS Racisme, Union of Jewish Students of France, Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples are suing Google due to its autocomplete software suggesting "jewish" when the names of certain public figures were searched on the platform. The suggestions, powered by Google Instant, are supposed to "reflect the diversity of content on the web" according to Google, and therefore have a narrow set of removal policies. The lawsuit claims "the creation of what is probably the biggest Jewish file in history" and notes an "ethnic file" is outlawed by French law.

Short Description

The organizations SOS Racisme, Union of Jewish Students of France, Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples are suing Google due to its autocomplete software suggesting "jewish" when the names of certain public figures were searched on the platform.

Severity

Negligible

Harm Distribution Basis

Religion

Harm Type

Harm to social or political systems

AI System Description

Google Instant software that provides suggestions as users enter information into the Google search bar

System Developer

Google

Sector of Deployment

Information and communication

Relevant AI functions

Perception, Cognition, Action

AI Techniques

Google Instant

AI Applications

search suggestions

Named Entities

Google, SOS Racisme, Union of Jewish Students of France, Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples

Technology Purveyor

Google

Beginning Date

2012-01-01T00:00:00.000Z

Ending Date

2012-01-01T00:00:00.000Z

Near Miss

Unclear/unknown

Intent

Accident

Lives Lost

No

Laws Implicated

French law against compilation of "ethnic files"

Data Inputs

user searches

Incidents Reports

Google Instant's Allegedly 'Anti-Semitic' Results Lead To Lawsuit In France

www.huffingtonpost.co.uk ยท 2012

A new lawsuit alleges that Google's search engine has an anti-Semitism problem.

French anti-discrimination organization SOS Racisme, in association with the Union of Jewish Students of France, the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples and other organizations, is suing Google because its autocomplete feature suggests the word "Jewish" in searches involving certain public figures, including News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and actor Jon Hamm, reports The Times of Israel.

Indeed, querying the search engine for "Jon Hamm," for example, yields "Jon Hamm Jewish" as one of the top results.

According to Google's website, its algorithm for the Google Instant autocomplete feature "predicts and displays search queries based on other users' search activities and the contents of web pages indexed by Google." In addition, the search engine says it strives to "reflect the diversity of content on the web (some good, some objectionable)" and so has a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, hate speech, etc. -- though not narrow enough for SOS Racisme, it seems.

A lawyer for SOS Racisme, Patrick Kulgman, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that Google's autocomplete algorithms have resulted in "the creation of what is probably the biggest Jewish file in history," according to The Times of Israel. As an "ethnic file," this compilation is outlawed in the country.

Local reports pointed out by The Hollywood Reporter explain that the plaintiffs contend users of Google in France and across the world are systematically confronted with the unsolicited association of the term "Jew" with prominent names in the world of politics, media, and business. A hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Hollywood Reporter also writes that the last lawsuit Google saw in France due to its autocomplete feature occurred in 2009, when two French companies sued the search engine because its autocomplete feature suggested the French word for "scam" in searches for said companies' names.

Just over a month ago, a man in Japan won an injunction against Google to have the autocomplete feature turned off when someone searched the man's name. Apparently, the search engine was connecting the man's name with crimes he had not committed and, according to Japan Times, "likely played a role in the sudden loss of his job several years ago and caused several companies to subsequently reject him when he applied for new jobs."...

Google Instant's Allegedly 'Anti-Semitic' Results Lead To Lawsuit In France