The Tokyo District Court ordered Google Thursday to remove over 100 search results that had invaded a man’s privacy by alluding to crimes he may have been involved in and other criminal activity, in a similar verdict to Europe’s right to be forgotten.
Judge Nobuyuki Seki said in a document obtained by the Kyodo News Agency, a non-profit Japanese news agency, that some of the search results did “infringe” the man’s “personal rights” and that“Google, which manages the search engine, has the obligation to delete them.”
The man requested an injunction in June saying that information being trawled up in search results was related to events which took place more than ten years ago and that his life had been threatened as a result of the reports of his alleged inappropriate behavior.
Judge Seki said the man had suffered “actual harm” and an infringement of “personal rights” and ordered the web giant to remove about 120 of the 230 search results.
Although the judge did admit that Google “plays an important role so that the internet can be used effectively.”
The man’s lawyer, Tomohiro Kanda, said he thought this was the first time such a court ruling has been made in Japan.
Tomohiro said the case came under Japanese privacy and defamation law, but the ruling also considered the “right to be forgotten” ruling in Europe in May in which the Court of Justice of the European Union ordered Google to remove the personal data of a Spanish man so that it didn’t appear in web searches anymore.
Google opposed the Japanese decision and said it had no obligation to remove the information, but the court threw their objection out and said that the US giant would not suffer any unjust disadvantage by removing the search results.
Google can appeal the decision. It is not clear if the same personal data about the man could be available through other search engines other than Google.
In a similar case, the same Tokyo court upheld a complaint by a man against a company not to give autocomplete suggestions when web searches for him were made, but then reversed their decision in January of this year.