KYOTO – The Kyoto District Court on Wednesday rejected a suit filed against the Japanese unit of U.S. Internet giant Google Inc. by a man in his 40s seeking to have his arrest record removed from online search results.
The Kyoto resident had demanded that search results with his name be suspended, and had sought some ¥11 million in damages from the Japanese subsidiary, saying Google’s links to past articles about his arrest defamed him. In August, the same court rejected a similar lawsuit lodged by the man against Yahoo Japan Corp. That decision is under appeal.
Presiding Judge Terumi Horiuchi said the case lacks legal grounds. It is the U.S. parent company that is responsible for managing the Google website and the Japanese unit is not obliged by law to supervise or block search results, Horiuchi said.
According to the lawsuits, the man was arrested in December 2012 on suspicion of secretly filming in public, in violation of the Kyoto Prefectural Government’s nuisance prevention ordinance.
In April 2013, he was convicted of voyeurism and given a suspended sentence.
In the latest court case, the man argued that his crime was light but because his arrest record turns up in Google searches it amounts to defamation, which prevents him from securing a job.
Google Japan Inc. claimed that it has no authority to alter search results, noting that they are controlled by its U.S.-based headquarters.
In the Aug. 7 decision, the Kyoto court said Yahoo Japan turned up websites relating to the man, but did not directly show his arrest record.
In May, the Court of Justice of the European Union recognized “the right to be forgotten” for individuals, accepting a man’s demand to have his personal information removed from Google search results.
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