German Federal Court decides Google auto-complete can violate privacy

The Federal Court of Justice in Germany looks set to have Google amending its auto-complete ability, due to concerns that it may act in violation of people's privacy. This decision marked an overturn of the Cologne Higher Regional Court's ruling.

The origins of this case were with an entrepreneur, whose name was shared with someone involved in Scientology. This led to results including 'Scientology' after his name, as well as 'swindle'. That's not ideal in his situation, but the case evolved into something more due to a political situation.

Bettina Wulff, the wife of former German President Christian Wulff, was the recipient of rumors involving promiscuity and prostitution. These rumors pre-date the addition of auto-complete in 2009 by three years, and they've hounded the presidential family until until Joachim Gauck took over in 2012. Wulff is known to take a tough stance on these rumors, going as far as lawsuits against other parties, but it's interesting to note that a poll from the Bild am Sonntag paper suggests 81% of Germans hadn't a clue about the rumors before her lawsuits.

Initial Google results don't show anything about her:

As you can see, I checked both and .de, and the results are near enough the same, although user location may also factor into the search results.

Source: (English), HAZ, FR, KSTA (German)

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Bust on Google hard!!

At least with Bing you can change those settings with out having to have an account AND be logged in!!

WTF? You know you can change all those settings WITHOUT being logged in And having an account. It's been standard for a long time. Top right, hit circle, search settings. Done.

It looks like Bing is no different, and offers similar suggestions for her name. Interesting that they decided to only sue Google.

Auto suggestion is based on past search, geo location and other tracking from ads/keywords on the sites you visit.

If you prefer cleaner results, use privacy mode in the browser and just hope there aren't any weirdo's in your area: )