Google Ordered by Court to Suspend Autocomplete Function
(TOKYO) — A Tokyo court has ordered Google to suspend its autocomplete search function after a Japanese man claimed it violated his privacy and cost him his job.
The case is a first involving the search function, which instantly suggests words or phrases a person may want to type in before the user fills out the search browser completely, according to Kyodo News.
So far, the tech giant has refused to halt the feature, saying the company — headquartered in California — will not be regulated by Japanese law and did not violate any privacy policies, according to Kyodo.
The man at the center of the legal case has not come out publicly, but his lawyer Hiroyuki Tomita says his client decided to seek a court injection after he lost his job and failed at several attempts to land a new one. Tomita said Google searches of his client’s name suggested words involving criminal acts, and included 10,000 items that defamed or disparaged him. The man believes that’s what led to his firing and derailed efforts for new opportunities.
Before turning to the court last October, Kyodo reports the man asked Google to delete certain words. But the company rejected the request, saying the suggested words were being selected mechanically, not intentionally, and do not violate his privacy, according to Tomita.
“It could lead to irretrievable damage, such as job loss or bankruptcy, just by displaying search results that constitute defamation or violation of the privacy of an individual person or small and medium-size companies,” Tomita told Kyodo. “It is necessary to establish a measure to enable swift redress for damage in the event of a clear breach.”
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