Yahoo, Google ordered by courts in Tokyo, Sapporo to cut search results suggesting criminal behavior

Kyodo, JIJI

Two courts have ordered Yahoo Japan and Google to remove search results suggesting two plaintiffs had previous run-ins with the law.

The Tokyo District Court on Dec. 1 issued an injunction ordering Yahoo Japan Corp. to remove some Internet search results that a man claimed suggest he may have been involved in a past crime.

The decision came after the court in October last year ordered Google Inc. to remove search results for the same plaintiff.

The man argued that his personal rights had been violated.

“It was obvious that (the search results) violated the right to privacy,” Judge Nobuyuki Seki said.

Seki said descriptions found in search results about the man’s past “significantly distort (his) current status” and are not of public importance, noting the man is currently living as an ordinary citizen.

The court ordered Yahoo Japan to delete 11 search results out of 47 the plaintiff had sought to remove.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Sapporo District Court issued a provisional injunction ordering Google Inc. to delete search results about a man’s arrest.

The Sapporo resident in his 50s was slapped with a summary fine of ¥200,000 after being arrested in 2003, according to a court decision verified by his lawyer.

The man sought a court injunction in October to delete search results about the arrest after Google declined to do so. He claimed that displaying his arrest record violated his right to privacy and his honor.

Presiding Judge Taichi Ito said that because 12 years had passed since the arrest, the social significance of keeping the man’s name and criminal record in the public domain had waned considerably.

Displaying the man’s arrest record in public violated his right to privacy by blocking his efforts to live a life of peace and promote rehabilitation, Ito said.