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High court says Twitter need not delete tweets on arrest history

  • June 29, 2020
  • , Kyodo News , 4:30 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO – The Tokyo High Court dismissed on Monday a man’s demand that Twitter Inc. delete tweets showing his arrest history, overturning a lower court order for the U.S. company to remove the online posts.


In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Hiroshi Noyama said Twitter plays a “significant role as information infrastructure on the internet” and that strict standards must be applied in this particular case.


In 2017, Japan’s top court set strict standards in a similar lawsuit, dismissing another man’s request to remove news search results of his arrest for child prostitution from Google Inc.’s search engine.


The Supreme Court decided that the deletion of search results can be allowed only when the significance of privacy protection clearly outweighs that of information disclosure.


Last October, the Tokyo District Court heeded the request of deletion by the man in northeastern Japan, saying looser standards should be applied in the case as Twitter does not have the same level of information infrastructure as Google.


But the high court determined that strict standards set by the top court should be applied in this case as well, with Noyama citing how Twitter is being used by “well-known individuals such as the U.S. president as well as government agencies and corporations.”


The judge said the likelihood is low that the man would be affected now since online articles reporting his name and his arrest have already been removed. The judge added that the man’s arrest history also no longer appears on the Google search engine.


“It is not clear whether the right to privacy prevails over (the significance of) keeping Twitter posts,” Noyama concluded.


According to the ruling, the man was arrested in 2012 over trespass allegations and ordered to pay a fine.


Following the incident, a series of tweets citing news articles carrying his name and the incident have been posted, affecting the man’s job seeking activities.


The lower court had ruled in favor of the man but Twitter Inc. appealed the ruling.

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