National

Yahoo Japan considers new policy for removal of search results

Kyodo

At a time when the European Union is pushing ahead with what has been called the “right to be forgotten,” Internet portal Yahoo Japan Corp. said Friday it is considering creating a new policy on the removal of search results.

If the nation’s most popular Internet portal adopts new policies regarding online references to individuals, the broader industry may follow suit.

Currently Yahoo Japan in principle refuses to respond to requests to remove search results except for certain cases involving past crimes. Instead, it has deferred to court decisions on the grounds that one company alone cannot decide what society should and should not have access to, a Yahoo Japan executive said.

Yahoo Japan said that on Tuesday it will form a panel of experts, including scholars and lawyers, to discuss specifically what kinds of appeals should be considered for the removal of search data, balancing the protection of privacy and the right to know. It hopes to come up with a new policy by March.

Yahoo Japan’s move reflects growing attention both at home and abroad toward the erasure of search results linking to online records or allegations that an individual affected does not wish to be seen.

In May, the Court of Justice of the European Union ordered Google Inc. to delist personal data relating to a Spanish man from its search results. Google accepted the ruling, and also set up a website through which users in Europe can submit requests to remove personal data.

Google has asked a committee of experts to compile a standard policy for Europe, as the company believes some data, including crime-related data and information about government officials’ public duties, should remain available to all, according to the report.

The Tokyo District Court last month ordered Google to remove search results that revealed the name of a man who argued his privacy had been infringed upon due to online allegations that he had been involved in a crime. It was likely a legal first for Japan, the man’s lawyer said.