Google comes under fire for revealing rape victims in searches

Google is enabling users to uncover the identities of rape victims whose anonymity is guaranteed under law, The Times reports.

Searches for criminals and alleged attackers in a number of prominent sexual assault cases reveal the names of women they have been convicted of attacking or accused of attacking.

Conversely, entering the name of a victim or complainant can reveal the name of the abuser or alleged abuser.

The search giant’s website brings up victims’ names via its “related search” and “autocomplete” functions.

Maria Miller, chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, said: “Google has to operate within the law of the UK… if that means they have to change how their search engine operates, then so be it.”

Complainants in sex offence cases are granted lifelong anonymity, even if the accused is acquitted.

Breaching an anonymity order is a criminal offence, attracting fines of up to £5,000 and at least nine people have been convicted after posting names online.

A Google spokeswoman said: “We don’t allow these kinds of autocomplete predictions or related searches that violate laws or our own policies and we have removed the examples we’ve been made aware of in this case.

“We recently expanded our removals policy to cover predictions which disparage victims of violence and atrocities, and we encourage people to send us feedback about any sensitive or bad predictions.”