Updated: 08/08/2014 08:55 | By Agence France-Presse

Hong Kong tycoon cleared to sue Google over 'triad' link

A billionaire Hong Kong tycoon has said he will sue Google over search results which link him to organised criminal gangs, after a court dismissed the Internet giant's objections.


Hong Kong tycoon cleared to sue Google over 'triad' link

A person prepares to search the internet using the Google search engine, on May 14, 2014 in Lille, France - by Philippe Huguen

Albert Yeung first filed a lawsuit against Google in August 2012 when it refused to stop the word "triad" being linked to his name through the search engine's "auto-complete" function.

"Triad" is automatically suggested when Yeung's name is typed in to the Google search box. 

The names of triad gangs "14k" and "Sun Yee On" also come up when the business tycoon's name is searched. 

Google asked a local court to discharge the case in December 2012, saying it did not have any merit. 

The company argued that no human input was used for its auto-complete search function and that the results did not "attribute negative connotations" to any individual.

But a high court judge dismissed Google's bid to stop the lawsuit on Wednesday.

"There is a good arguable case that Google is the publisher of the words and liable for their publication," judge Marlene Ng said in the ruling.

"The advantages of having easy access to a rich store of information are many... but such benefit comes at a price; any risk of misinformation can spread easily as users forage in the web," she added.

Yeung, who is founder of the conglomerate Emperor Group which has businesses in the movie industry and real estate, said his personal and business reputation had been "gravely injured" by the offending words. 

"We will... continue to take legal action against Google for the publication of offending/defamatory words that gravely injured Dr Yeung's reputation," the billionaire's company spokesperson said in an email to AFP Wednesday.

Google faced a similar court case in Germany in 2013 when an unnamed entrepreneur successfully sued after the search engine's auto-complete function linked his name to "Scientology" and "fraud".

A German court ordered Google to remove the offending words.

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