Google wins ‘right to be forgotten’ battle in Japan

Google has won a long-standing battle in Japan that drew parallels with Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling.

The Japanese Supreme Court today dismissed four cases against the U.S. company seeking the removal of allegedly defamatory comments in its Google Maps service, including one high-profile case involving a medical clinic. Back in April 2015, the Chiba District Court ruled that Google must delete the comments, but the search giant appealed that decision and has now prevailed.

The ruling dismisses the cases, which were troubling because the comments in question appeared to be legitimate. In the instance of the medical clinic, two comments made about the business via Google Maps seemed to document negative customer experiences. However, the clinic had sought to scrub them from the web via a defamation suit against Google.

“We’re pleased that with these latest rulings, the Supreme Court has unanimously recognized, based on existing privacy and defamation laws, that any decision to delete information from search results should prioritize the public’s right to information,” Google told TechCrunch in a statement.

The U.S. firm previously argued against the removals, stating that they did not violate its terms and served an important purpose for the public.

“While we provide tools that allow business owners to respond to reviews, and we take down posts that violate our policies, we believe online reviews, positive and negative, are a critical tool for people to give and read direct feedback about businesses,” it said in 2015.

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