Stavroula Karapapa, Maurizio Borghi; Search engine liability for autocomplete suggestions: personality, privacy and the power of the algorithm. Int J Law Info Tech 2015; 23 (3): 261-289. doi: 10.1093/ijlit/eav009
This article is concerned with the liability of search engines for algorithmically produced search suggestions, such as through Google’s ‘autocomplete’ function. Liability in this context may arise when automatically generated associations have an offensive or defamatory meaning, or may even induce infringement of intellectual property rights. The increasing number of cases that have been brought before courts all over the world puts forward questions on the conflict of fundamental freedoms of speech and access to information on the one hand, and personality rights of individuals—under a broader right of informational self-determination—on the other. In the light of the recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) in Google Spain v AEPD, this article concludes that many requests for removal of suggestions including private individuals’ information will be successful on the basis of EU data protection law, even absent prejudice to the person concerned.