Google Autocomplete, VI ZR 269/12

Bundesgerichtshof [Federal Court of Justice of Germany], Sixth Civil Section,
Document type
Court Decision
The prediction of certain negative terms within the autocomplete function of the Google’s search engine is likely to violate personality rights. Google is not privileged by § 10 TMG because the autocomplete function creates new data out of the behavior of Google users. In this case, Google does not qualify as an intermediary for information but as a creator of content. Yet, there are limits to Google’s liability for violations of personality rights caused by the autocomplete function of its search engine. The autocomplete function is no direct threat to personality rights; it is rather a certain type of user behavior that creates a threat. Therefore, Google does not need to check every suggested term in advance. But Google has to stop the display of specific terms if it has knowledge that the suggested terms violate personality rights. Furthermore Google has to prevent future violations by special observations to protect former victims. The victims’ claim follows from §§ 823, 1004 BGB. Remedies include injunctions and damages.
Topic, claim, or defense
Defamation or Personality Rights
Privacy or Data Protection
Document type
Court Decision
Issuing entity
Highest Domestic/National (including State) Court
Type of service provider
Search Engine or Index
Issues addressed
Trigger for OSP obligations
OSP obligation considered
Block or Remove
Type of law
General effect on immunity
Weakens Immunity
General intermediary liability model
Takedown/Act Upon Knowledge (Includes Notice and Takedown)