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Saitama court orders deletion of Twitter account impersonating woman

SAITAMA -- A woman's temporary injunction application against Twitter Inc. requesting the deletion of an account allegedly impersonating her has been approved by the district court here, sources close to the matter have disclosed.

    While there are many past examples of the court ordering the deletion of individual tweets, handing down a court decision to remove an entire account is extremely rare. An expert has hailed the decision as groundbreaking relief for the numerous people dealing with cases of impersonation.

    The Saitama Prefecture woman in this case runs a restaurant, and according to her legal representative, lawyer Kazuya Tanaka, the account impersonating her was created in June 2017. In the bio of the Twitter account, in addition to the woman's real name and address listed, a photo of her, which appeared to have been found online, was set as the display photo. It was also falsely claimed that she was the same person as an existing former adult video performer. On the account's timeline, still images taken from the actress's videos were posted 11 times.

    In September 2017, the woman filed with the Saitama District Court for a temporary injunction, claiming an infringement of her personal rights. Twitter responded by arguing that "if the account is completely deleted, it will severely limit future expression."

    In an October 2017 decision ordering the deletion of the account, the district court suggested that accounts will be ordered erased when "it's clear that the account itself has motives for illegal actions and greatly infringes upon the rights (of the victim)." The court also recognized the impersonation of the woman impinged on her personal rights.

    Twitter challenged the ruling, and pursued a separate trial under a different judge in the same district court. However, the account vanished during deliberations, and Twitter withdrew its objection in December 2017, concluding the hearing.

    "The account impersonating the woman had a great number of followers," Tanaka said. "The false information that the woman was the former adult video actress spread, and the psychological suffering gravely affected even her work."

    Lawyer Tomohiro Kanda, who specializes in internet-related lawsuits, commented, "Even if the court hands down decisions to order the deletion of individual posts, there is still the possibility that the same account will repeat the same illegal actions. By ordering the deletion of an entire account, it can be said that the decision prevents future actions, and that is breakthrough relief for victims."

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