Google has been forced to temporarily suspend its ‘Trends’ feature in New Zealand after it published suppressed details of a murder case.
The name of the man accused of murdering 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane last year appeared in a “what’s trending in New Zealand” email from Google Trends, despite a court order that suppressed the name.
“We understand the sensitivity around this issue and we have suspended Google Trends emails about searches trending in New Zealand,” a Google spokesperson said.
Prior to pulling the Trends feature in New Zealand, Google had received criticism from the local government over the farce.
New Zealand Justice Minister Andrew Little last week used Google’s unofficial slogan of “don’t be evil” against the tech giant.
“My message to Google is, don’t be evil. Do the right thing,” Little said.
“We’ve had a situation where, in a very important trial – the Grace Millane case – a newspaper, helped by Google, has published information that the judge said was suppressed.
“That’s wrong and I’ve been a bit frustrated by Google not working out what the problem is and what they can do to prevent this from happening again.”
— Andrew Little (@AndrewLittleMP) July 3, 2019
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – who has previously called on tech companies to take on more social responsibility – also expressed her disappointment in Google over the incident.