Google's French arm has been ordered to pay libel damages to a man whose name brought up unsavoury automatic suggestions on the search engine.

According to iTnews.com.au, the search giant stood accused of damaging an un-named man's reputation by suggesting the words "rape," "rapist," and "prison" when his name was entered into the search box on Google.fr.

Although the man had previously been imprisoned in France on charges of corrupting a minor, the court decided in his favour, and has moved that Google pay the man €5,000 in damages.

As a result of the ruling, Google has also been ordered to remove the automatically-generated suggestions - although the advertising giant says it will to appeal the court's decision.

In an email statement, a Google spokesperson claimed that "it is important to point out that Google Suggest is an aggregate of the most popular searches based on past requests from users," and that it believed that the court had misunderstood the basic point that "Google does not suggest these terms."

Are you surprised that the French courts would rule against Google despite that fact that the suggested terms merely reflect prior searches, or is it clear that Google's behaviour resulted in direct damage to the man's reputation? Do you think the company will succeed with its appeal? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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