Defaming by Suggestion: Searching for Search Engine Liability in the Autocomplete Era

Author: Anne Cheung

Published in: Andras Koltay, ed., Comparative Perspectives on the Fundamentals of Freedom of Expression, 2015.

Whilst different jurisdictions have yet to reach consensus on search engines’ liability for defamation, Internet giant Google is confronting judges and academics with another challenge: the basis of liability for defamation arising from its Autocomplete function. In 2014, for example, the Hong Kong Court of First Instance held that a claimant whose name was often paired with ‘triad member’ in Autocomplete had a good arguable case of defamation to proceed with and dismissed a claim of summary dismissal application made by Google in Dr Yeung Sau Shing Albert v Google Inc (Yeung v Google). Earlier, in 2013, the Federal Court of Germany held Google to be liable for violating a plaintiff’s personality rights and reputation for associating his name with ‘fraud’ and ‘Scientology’ in an Autocomplete search RS v Google).

Abstract and paper can be viewed from SSRN, click here.