Tokyo Court Orders Google to Remove Autocomplete Feature

Posted by at 11:45 am on March 26, 2012

Google has been ordered by the Tokyo District Court to turn off its autocomplete feature in searches after an unnamed man alleged it got him fired. According to Japan Times, the man also claims the feature breached his privacy. Google, on the other hand, believes it’s not bound by Japanese law as it’s headquartered in the US.

The case will be precedent-setting, as it’s likely the first to order the suspension of a web search feature. This one involves finishing a word or phrase in the search box as a user types based on popular searches from other users and other information.

The plaintiff believes this feature was at least partially responsible from his job loss a few years ago and other companies since then rejecting his job applications. What he originally searched for or what Google suggested instead hasn’t been revealed. However, he goes on to say that when his name is typed into Google’s search engine, the autocomplete feature adds words suggesting criminal acts he didn’t commit.

The case was initially taken to court in October, though the man first asked Google to delete certain words related to his name in the search. Google said the resulting words were chosen mechanically and therefore do not violate his privacy.

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