ÉCRANS, RTL (France)
PARIS – Four French anti-racism organizations have sued Google for its automatic suggestion function that prompts search requests to see if certain public figures are Jewish, French website Écrans reports.
The Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), SOS Racism and two other groups said the search engine corporation's "auto-suggestion" tool was breaching a French law that bans ethnic statistical categorizing. When a user types the name of a politician, pop star or other famous people, Google suggests keywords that you may want to search along with the name of this person. For a surprisingly high number of people on Google.fr the search engine prompts the word "Jewish" to appear.
The issue first received attention during the French presidential campaign when some noticed that Google auto-suggest completed searches for then candidate (and eventual winner) François Hollande with the French word for Jewish, "juif," even though Hollande comes from a Catholic family.
By recording personal data on citizen's ethnicity "without explicit consent," the California-based company is "probably building the biggest list of Jews in History," Patrick Klugman, the attorney for SOS Racism, told RTL radio station.
Google responded by saying that the suggestions were not made "manually," but rather were "algorithmically generated according to most popular searches' in order to better facilitate web search.
On Wednesday, the Paris judge handling the case, Martine Provost-Lopin, decided to appoint a former judge as a mediator in the case to oversee talks between the web-search giant and the anti-racist groups. The two sides have until June 27 to try to reach an agreement or risk winding up taking the case to trial.