Bettina Wulff, wife of former German President Christian Wulff, has included Google in legal action to stop rumors about her private life.
When the name Bettina Wulff is typed into Google’s search engine, suggested search terms include the words “prostitute” and “red light district”.
Google says the auto-generated text reflects what others are already searching for online.
Bettina Wulff denies she has ever worked as a prostitute.
Bettina Wulff, wife of former German President Christian Wulff, has included Google in legal action to stop rumors about her private life
German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Bettina Wulff had given a sworn declaration denying all allegations relating to prostitution or escort work before her marriage.
The rumors have spread both online and in various media outlets.
It has been reported they were started in order to disrupt her husband Christian Wulff’s political career.
German newspaper Die Spiegel reports she has spent over two years fighting allegations she was once employed as an escort.
“Her lawyers have already issued 34 successful cease-and-desist orders, including one against a prominent German television personality this weekend,” the paper notes.
The same paper says a defamation suit was launched against Google last week.
Google Northern Europe spokeswoman Kay Oberbeck said the site’s search terms were “algorithmically generated” and “include the popularity of the entered search terms”.
“All terms that appear have been previously entered by Google users,” she added in a statement.
The same text generates in rival search engine Bing.com.
In March 2012 Google was ordered to disable the autocomplete function relating to search results for an unnamed man in Japan, who said his name was being associated with crimes he had not committed.
The great majority are in the dark about the way Google will use information about what they look for and what they do on-line, it said.
The findings came amid deepening concerns about the abuse of private information by internet companies.
At the weekend it was disclosed that people who download smartphone apps may be ignoring small print that allows large-scale intrusion into their lives by outsiders.
The rights they unwittingly hand over even include the legal power to make their camera phones take pictures and video on the command of a app company.
Google has been widely criticized for the way it handles information made available to it by the millions who turn to its search engines and other services.
Google’s new policy replaces around 60 different existing privacy policies.
The poll, carried out by YouGov for the Big Brother Watch pressure group in UK, found that 92% of adults who use the internet go through a Google service at least once a week.
Nick Pickles, of Big Brother Watch, said: “The impact of Google’s new policy cannot be understated, but the public are in the dark about what the changes actually mean.
“Companies should not be allowed to bury in legal jargon and vague statements how they may monitor what we do online, where we use our phones and even listen to what we say in calls.
“This change isn’t about Google collecting more data, it’s about letting the company combine what’s in your emails with the videos you watch and the things you search for.”
Nick Pickles added: “If people don’t understand what is happening to their personal information, how can they make an informed choice about using a service?
“Google is putting advertiser’s interests before user privacy and should not be rushing ahead before the public understand what the changes will mean.”
The pressure group has called for an inquiry into how the new Google policy complies with British data protection law.
Google has given a glimpse on just how much information on its users it has collected – and who thinks they are.
However, it seems the famed Google algorithms are far from infallible.
People taking advantage of the facility that allows the public to view what kind of consumer Google thinks they are have been amused to find themselves listed with the wrong age and even sex.
Nevertheless, the knowledge that Google works so hard to profile its 350 million account holders is bound to intensify the debate about privacy which flared up again this week with the announcement that the company was going to start tracking users across all of its sites, including YouTube.
The detailed personal “profile” sums up many of a user’s interests, along with age and gender.
Google builds a detailed profile by harvesting the history of its account holders’ visits to sites in its advertising network.
User’s age and gender are decided by those of other Google users who have visited the sites you visit, leading to the mistakes.
One blogger from tech site Mashable found this week that Google’s Ad Preferences page assume that she was middle-aged – and a man, simply because her interests included technology and computing.
The profile page, called Ad Preferences, is hidden away inside a settings menu in Google Accounts, but can be accessed directly.
This sort of in-depth profiling raises alarm bells with privacy activists.
“Consumers have increasingly digital lives and they are developing an unfathomably large data trail every day,” says Rainey Reitman, activism director for privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“There has never been another time in history where privacy was under the kind of assault it is today.”
Uuser can opt out of the tracking, or manually edit his details. Google also does not store information on controversial subjects such as pornography.
YouTube data, Gmail information and search data will all be used to build up ever more accurate advertising profiles and also the company claims it will make searches more personalized.
In most cases, though, the data is eerily accurate, bringing up a breakdown of interests, age and sex.
The Advertising Preferences information that Google gathers is sent out as a “cookie” – a packet of information sent out by your browser – whenever you visit other Google partners, who then serve up “relevant” adverts when you visit their sites.
Users who are fearful of the amount of information Google holds can block the profiling by disabling “cookies” in their internet browser settings.
Google says: “We associate interests with your ads preferences based on the types of websites that you visit within the Google Display Network.”
“For example, when you browse many gardening-related websites in the Google Display Network, Google may associate a gardening preference with your cookie.”
“If the sites that you visit have a majority of female visitors, we may associate your cookie with the female demographic category.”
Some users reported that Google had identified bizarre interests such as “Sweets and Candy”, and was duly serving them adverts appropriate to that “interest”.
User can manually change his “interests” from your Ad Preferences page – although you cannot, of course, stop Google from sending you adverts.