Google wins ‘right to be forgotten’ battle in Japan

Google has won a long-standing battle in Japan that drew parallels with Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling.

The Japanese Supreme Court today dismissed a case against the U.S. company seeking the removal of allegedly defamatory results from its search engine, including one case of a man who sought to remove details of his arrest on child prostitution charges, Japan Times reported.

The man took libel action against Google on the grounds of infringement of privacy, but the court decided that the result should remain online since it is a matter of public interest. The case didn’t take issue with articles of the arrest but, instead, that excerpts that could show in a Google search result.

While there are similarities with Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling, the legal cases are not the same. The Europe’s case, the issues center around the freedom of individuals, but, in Japan, the suits against Google came a small number of plaintiffs that included both businesses and individuals.

“We’re pleased that with these latest rulings, the Supreme Court has unanimously recognized, based on existing privacy and defamation laws, that any decision to delete information from search results should prioritize the public’s right to information,” Google told TechCrunch in a statement.

The U.S. firm previously argued against the removals, stating that they did not violate its terms and served an important purpose for the public.

“While we provide tools that allow business owners to respond to reviews, and we take down posts that violate our policies, we believe online reviews, positive and negative, are a critical tool for people to give and read direct feedback about businesses,” it said in 2015.

Post updated to correct details of the case