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Japanese doctors sue Google Maps over bad ratings

2024-04-19 12:25:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

Japanese doctors sue Google Maps over bad ratings

Nearly 60 doctors in Japan have filed a lawsuit, accusing Google Maps of ignoring bad reviews for their clinics. This is the first lawsuit of its kind in Japan.

Doctors are seeking $9,000 in damages from Google, aiming to hold the American tech giant accountable for failing to respond to reviews.

They sued the company, arguing that they are powerless to respond to or refute the defamatory reviews because they have an obligation to patient confidentiality.

"People who post online can say anything anonymously even if it's nothing but slander and verbal abuse," said one of the doctors who is part of the lawsuit.

The case filed before the Tokyo District Court is believed to be the first lawsuit of its kind in Japan targeting a platform related to negative online reviews, the doctors' lawyer said.

Lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa told AFP that although it is easy to write reviews and ratings, they can be removed with great difficulty.

"This can cause working doctors to be in constant fear of receiving terrible reviews," he said.

The goal of many medical institutions is not to please patients, but to treat their illnesses professionally, the lawsuit said.

The nature of doctors' work often leaves them vulnerable to online attacks from patients who may hold a grudge against them, the lawsuit argued.

According to doctors, if the situation is not addressed, they "may find themselves reluctant to perform unnecessary examinations or meet the health requirements that patients may have," Nakazawa said.

Google Maps is widely used in Japan and serves as "infrastructure" in daily life, the lawsuit said. Therefore, Google should be able to "readily recognize" the disadvantages that result from unfair ratings on healthcare institutions if they are not addressed, the lawsuit said.

The doctors who filed the lawsuit, however, admitted that Google has removed some reviews from Google Maps based on a new guideline, but the criteria for removing reviews, according to them, is unclear and very few reviews are removed from the platform./ REL 

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