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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 August 14 - 20  > Rules on companies’ customer profiling necessary to safeguard privacy
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2019 August 14 - 20 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Rules on companies’ customer profiling necessary to safeguard privacy

August 20, 2019
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Rikunabi, a major job boards site for prospective university graduates, recently came under fire after its operator, Recruit Career, was found to have provided registered students’ personal information to its client companies in an ethically questionable manner. Recruit Career offered a service in which a client company can inquire of the website operator how likely a particular student is to decline a job offer from that company. The probability was assessed based on an analysis of students’ browsing behavior with AI technologies. Thirty-eight companies used the service at a cost of four million to five million yen.

Student users were not informed about the declining rate service. Rikunabi’s privacy policy just vaguely stated that the website may analyze job seekers’ browsing behavior and provide companies with information which is helpful in their recruiting activities.

Recruit Career insists that registered students agreed to the privacy policy and therefore consented to the provision dealing with estimated declining rates. Guidelines on the privacy protection law state that consent on the use of personal information should be obtained on an informed basis and in a reasonable and appropriate manner.

Recruit Career’s case has given rise to the suspicion that other companies may be misusing personal data they collected to make undue profits. All companies should assess their behavior.

E-commerce websites and other online service providers often process each user’s browsing and purchase records to create a portrait of the particular user in order to fine-tune marketing strategies. This is called customer profiling. Rikunabi’s case highlighted risks pertaining to profiling.

The Abe government plans to amend the privacy protection law in next year’s ordinary session of the Diet. However, it does not intend to strengthen measures to safeguard people’s right to privacy. The government designates the promotion of Japan’s data business as a key component of the government economic growth strategy.

A person’s personal information should not be provided to third parties without the person’s knowledge and used against the person. It is necessary to regulate customer profiling, establish the right to be forgotten, and ensure i
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