In an injunction emulating the EU’s recent “right to be forgotten” law, the Tokyo District Court has ordered Google Japan to remove search results that hinted at a man’s relations with a criminal organization after he complained his privacy rights were violated.

Taj Meadows a spokesperson for Google said that there is a standard procedure for removal requests and the company is reviewing the court order. “We remove pages from our search results when required by local law, including Japan’s longstanding privacy and defamation laws,” he said..

Tomohiro Kanda, the complainant’s lawyer pointed out while talking to The Associated Press that the case referenced the European “right to be forgotten” ruling in May using some of its logic and language.

“We asserted Google as a controller of the site had the duty to delete the material,” Kanda said. “We are fighting the same battle as the one in Europe, and we won a similar decision.”

Google has been asked to delete about 120 of 230 search results that point to the plaintiff’s association with a criminal organisation in the past, of which some have already been taken down, Kanda said.

Starting May 29, Google has been entertaining requests for search result deletion and at the time of this ruling, about 42% of the 497,507 URL removal requests evaluated by Google have been deleted, according to statistics released by Google.

While the Tokyo decision was a provisional disposition, the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling was a legislative order given by the European Union’s highest court according to WSJ. Smaller in scale than the European ruling, experts believe clear definitions need to be marked out for privacy and search functions in Japan and given the scenario it is likely to throw up questions of online privacy.

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(Image Credit: Alessandro Baffa)

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