Current situation of discussions on Right to Be Forgotten in Japan, by Shizuo Fujiwara

Résumé: Depuis l’arrêt Google Spain, des demandes de suppression de résultats de recherche ont abouti y compris devant les tribunaux japonais. Plus d’une cinquantaine d’affaires ont été jugées. Concernant un historique d’arrestations liées à la prostitution d’enfants, les tribunaux inférieurs étaient en désaccord sur l’opportunité d’une suppression. Ainsi, le tribunal de Saitama a été le premier à juger que “les gens ont un droit à voir leurs crimes passés oubliés par la société après un certain temps.” Le 31 janvier 2017, la Cour suprême du Japon s’est pour la première fois prononcée sur cette question. D’après l’arrêt, “la suppression est permise si la protection de la vie privée de l’individu est clairement supérieure” à l’importance pour la société d’avoir accès à l’information en cause. La Cour Suprême a indiqué que la teneur de l’information, l’ampleur du dommage, la situation sociale, entre autres facteurs, doivent être pris en compte par les tribunaux. Dans l’affaire de la prostitution enfantine, la Cour Suprême a fait primer la liberté d’expression sur l’intérêt de l’individu sur lequel portait l’information. La Cour Suprême n’a pas mentionné le “droit à l’oubli”. Au Japon, un débat à ce sujet s’était tenu dans les années 1980. Traditionnellement, au Japon, la vision dominante ne conçoit pas le droit à l’oubli comme un droit autonome et met plutôt l’accent sur le droit à la suppression.  A la différence de l’Union européenne, le Japon ne compte pas beaucoup de voix suggérant de légiférer sur le droit à l’oubli. Les agences administratives japonaises insistent plutôt sur les efforts volontaires des prestataires. Ainsi, certains moteurs de recherche proposent des critères pour une suppression volontaire.

Abstract:  Since Google’s Spain decision, requests for deletion of search results were successively sent to district courts even in Japan. It exceeds 50 cases. Regarding the case where the arrest history in child prostitution became an issue, the judgments of lower courts were divided into one that allows deletion and one that does not accept it. Among them, the district court in Saitama prefecture showed the first judgment that « people have right to be forgotten of past crimes from society after a certain period of time ». On January 31, 2017, the Supreme Court of Japan showed the judgment standard for the first time. According to the decision of the Supreme Court, compared to the social significance of the display of the search results, « Deletion is permitted if privacy protection of the individual clearly superior ». The Supreme Court stated that the content of the information, the extent of the damage, the social position, and other factors should be taken into consideration in the judgment. As a result, in the case of child prostitution, the Supreme Court dismissed men’s appeal by dominating freedom of expression. The Supreme Court did not mention « the right to be forgotten ». In Japan, similar discussion has been in the 1980s. Traditionally, in Japan, the view that understands that the right to be forgotten are not regarded as independent rights and is not more than the right to erase is dominant. Unlike the EU, in Japan, few people argue the legislation theory on forgotten rights, rather Japanese administrative agencies recommend vendors’ voluntary efforts. In fact, there are also search service providers who publish voluntary deletion criteria.

Download the paper HERE

Shizuo Fujiwara Professor, Chuo Law School, Chuo University, Areas of Specialization: Administrative Law, Information Law, Local Autonomy Law. He is a PhD in Law and is currently a professor at the University of Chuo Law School. He studied in Germany as a visiting professor at the University of Bonn between 1989 and 1991. His public activities include participation in the Disclosure of Information Section of the Administrative Reform Committee (he took part in planning the Information Disclosure Law), in the Cabinet Office Committee on the Establishment of the Personal Information Protection Law as an expert adviser (in addition he was a member of the drafting committee), in the Personal Information Protection Law Research Committee for administrative organs such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, in the Cabinet Office’s Review Board of Information Disclosure and Personal Information Protection, in the committee to establish personal information protection guidelines for METI. He has also served on many committees on information law in the administration, local self-governing bodies and private sector.

His major publications include “The Information Disclosure Law System” (Koubundou Publishers), “The Personal Information Protection Law, Article by Article” (Koubundou Publishers) , “A Commentary on the Personal Information Protection Law” (Gyosei). The New Course in Local Autonomy Law, Vol. 4 (Lawsuits by Citizens) (coauthor; Gyosei), Public document management law (Yuhikaku Publishing) and Administrative Law for Beginners (coauthor; Yuhikaku Publishing, 4nd ed.).

He has also given lectures at international symposia on information law including “Information Disclosure and Personal Information Protection Amidst Globalization” at the 7th Speyer Forum “Cooperation Between the Law and the Administration” (German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer), “The Japanese Information Disclosure Law” at the international symposium “Freedom of Information and Personal Information Protection” (Potsdam), and “Administrative Organization and Information Technology” at the Japanese-German legal conference “The Law Challenged by High-Technology” (the University of Tübingen).

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