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Google asked to bin autocomplete results for Japanese man's name

Global search giant defies court order in cyber-defamation case

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Google has refused to co-operate with a Japanese court order to suspend autocomplete searches for a man's name. The court made the ruling against Google after the man complained that autocomplete search suggestions for his name were defaming him, by linking him with crimes he did not commit.

The man's lawyer Hiroyuki Tomita told media on Sunday that the autocomplete feature on Google had ruined his client's career and job prospects, causing him to be fired several years ago and preventing him from getting new jobs.

But Google has refused to co-operate with the court order from Tokyo District court to suspend autocomplete, claiming that it is not headquartered in Japan and so not subject to Japanese law.

Google argues that the autocomplete results cannot violate privacy because they are automatically generated and depend on what is already available on the internet.

Google does currently censor autocomplete results to exclude porn, violence, swear-words and searches that could lead to copyright violations. It has not yet done so for cases of personal defamation.

An email to Google's UK press office about whether that was likely or possible in the future has received no response. Google has faced similar cases elsewhere, in the UK for example, where Max Mosley has asked Google to remove search results that link his name to certain stories about his sex life. That case is ongoing. ®

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