The technology that’s meant to serve us sometimes comes back to bite us.
Imagine a perspective employer enters your name in a Google search and the autocomplete feature offers suggestions such as “sex offender” or “pedophile.” Maybe someone with the same name fits those descriptions — or maybe the Google feature just made a poor choice. Either way, you’re not likely to get that job.
Something similar recently happened to a Japanese man. Google’s Instant Search linked his name to crimes and his employer fired him. The man claims he didn’t commit any crimes and now he can’t find another job. He took Google to court claiming an invasion of privacy. A Tokyo court recently agreed with him and ordered Google to stop the use of its Instant Search feature.
Google of course disagrees and says that as a U.S. company it won’t change its business practices due to Japanese laws. The problem the man suffered, says Google, wasn’t intentional or the result of a malicious company employee. The Instant Search uses impersonal algorithms to suggest the most popular searches.
Instant Search is a cool tool that I’ve used many times. But this story led me to check out my name. Just to play it safe, you might want to check out yours. Fortunately, mine came back clean. I hope yours does, too.
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