Argentina gags Google over anti-Semitic sites

Posted by Emma Woollacott

An Argentine court has followed the lead of Italy in ruling that Google's Autocomplete function is potentially illegal.

A complaint was filed by DAIA, an Argentine Jewish organization. It complained that, for perfectly reasonable searches, Google was throwing up results for 76 sites which DAIA regarded as 'highly discriminatory'.

These included specifically anti-Semitic sites and some which denied the Holocaust had taken place. All, says the DAIA, contain 'the incitement to hatred and the call to violence'.

There are around 200,000 Jewish people in Argentina, the largest Jewish community in South America.

In its ruling, the Buenos Aires court noted that while censorship is illegal under Argentine law, the constitution protects people from discrimination - and pointed out that a similar decision had been reached in previous cases involving printed material.

It's ordered that Google stop recommending the sites in Argentina.

Google's been challenged on its search results before, but always claims to be an intermediary, rather than a publisher.

"Google views the comprehensiveness of our search results as an extremely important priority," its company policy statement reads. "Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it."

However, the content of the Autocomplete box is produced by Google itself.

In a recent case in Italy, a court ruled that the function was libelous after searches on a particular man's name threw up the results 'truffatore' (con man) and 'truffa' (fraud).

Google tried to argue - unsuccessfully - that the contents of the Autocmplete box was not produced by the company, but generated automatically from previous searches.