Business, Economics and Jobs

Google: Autocomplete violates privacy, Japan says


Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. on September 2, 2011.



When a Japanese man Googled himself, Google's autocomplete function associated his name with crimes that he did not commit, BBC News reported.

The man took Google to court for allegedly violating his privacy and costing him jobs. The Tokyo District Court recently approved his petition asking Google to suspend its autocomplete search function, Mainichi Japan reported. This case is the first to deal with Google's autocomplete function, ABC News reported.

Before turning to the court, the man had asked Google directly to delete certain words, but the company argued that autocomplete doesn't violate privacy because suggested words are selected mechanically. 

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"A Japanese court issued a provisional order requesting Google to delete specific terms from autocomplete," Google said in a statement today, according to the BBC. "The judge did not require Google to completely suspend the autocomplete function."

The court approved the man's petition on March 19, but the search engine giant has so far not taken action. The BBC says that Google is currently reviewing the order. However, Mainichi reported that Google is refusing to suspend the function. According to Mainichi, Google says that "its headquarters in the United States will not be regulated by Japanese law."

The man has not been identified to the press. His lawyer, Hiroyuki Tomita, says that his client's name brought up 10,000 defaming or disparaging items when Googled. 

The Associated Foreign Press reported that it's possible that the man shares his name with someone who actually did commit those crimes.