Bloomberg News

Google Told by Tokyo Court to Limit Autocomplete, Kyodo Says

March 26, 2012

Google Inc. (GOOG) was ordered by the Tokyo District Court to delete terms from its autocomplete search feature after a man alleged that it violated his privacy, according to a Kyodo News story published on the Japan Times website.

Google rejected the order, saying that its U.S. headquarters isn’t regulated by Japanese law, according to the report, which cites the man’s lawyer, Hiroyuki Tomita.

The Mountain View, California-based company, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, is reviewing the order, according to an e-mailed statement from Google to Bloomberg News.

“A Japanese court issued a provisional order requesting Google to delete specific terms from autocomplete,” the company said. “The judge did not require Google to completely suspend the autocomplete function.”

Autocomplete predicts searches for users as they start typing queries, in part by using the popularity of search terms, the company said. Google said it doesn’t determine these terms manually -- suggested queries are drawn from items that have been typed in by other Google users.

Kyodo News initially reported that the Tokyo District Court ordered Google to “suspend” its autocomplete search function. It later revised the story to say Google was ordered to delete terms.

To contact the reporters on this story: Takehiko Kumakura in Tokyo at tkumakura@bloomberg.net; Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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