Google Autocomplete Lawsuit: The Case of the Man in Japan

Google autocomplete lawsuit
New lawsuit in Japan challenges Google’s auto-complete search.
A Google autocomplete lawsuit out of Japan has legal watchers around the globe wondering. This article includes a brief case summary and discussion about claim’s potential international Internet law implications.

Sure, it’s a time saver. But what if Google’s autocomplete suggested  “criminal” and “jerk” for your name? Would you file an Internet defamation lawsuit against the search engine? One man in Japan did just that.

Man in Japan Files Google Autocomplete Lawsuit

A man in Japan is suing Google over an unsavory autocomplete on his name. Filed in the Tokyo District Court, the plaintiff exercised his right of anonymity under Japanese law. So, for the purposes of this post, let’s call him “Yuto.”

“Yuto” claims Google’s autocomplete pairs his name with criminal acts. Furthermore, he says information contained on the click through websites is defamatory. But instead of moving forward with a defamation claim, “Yuto” seems to be filing a privacy lawsuit.

On March 19th, 2012, Japanese officials approved the Google autocomplete lawsuit. At the time of this writing, Google has yet to respond.

Curious about Japanese defamation law? Click here.

Considering Autocomplete As A Microcosm Of Current Internet Law Polarities

This case is an interesting in that it weighs free speech and online privacy against the desire of social media companies, like Facebook, to promote a revenue-friendly, open Web.

  • On the one hand, private citizens want their online privacy protected, yet they also want the convenience of a less regulated Internet;
  • The Internet is supposed to be a free speech stronghold, yet many folks want negative opinions about them removed immediately;
  • Nobody wants to pay for services like Twitter and Facebook, but they also don’t want to be a pawn in the behavioral marketing rat-race — the rat-race that allows free services to make money and pay employees.

Search is getting smarter by the day. Fast-developing innovations, coupled with a lack of Internet privacy laws, could result in a surge of online privacy cases – especially since privacy laws in the E.U. and U.S. are heading in different directions.


Considering a Google autocomplete lawsuit? Kelly / Warner handles all manners of Internet law issues — from Internet defamation to online privacy. Click here to learn more about us and our practice.