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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 April 14 - 20  > Suga gov’t digital reform goes counter to global trends in privacy protection
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2021 April 14 - 20 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Suga gov’t digital reform goes counter to global trends in privacy protection

April 19, 2021

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Five bills regarding digital transformation proposed by the government led by Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide are currently under discussion in the House of Councilors. The five bills, while failing to establish fundamental principles on personal data protection, aim to introduce a framework under which personal data collected by the national and local governments will be easily used mainly by corporations. In order to make people’s daily lives more convenient with the use of digital technologies, it is vital to protect people’s right to privacy and right to know how their personal data is managed and used as well as the right to refuse the use of such data without their consent. The Suga government-proposed bills go counter to the global tendency to provide an adequate safeguard to protect these rights.

In a House of Councilors plenary meeting on April 14, Japanese Communist Party Policy Commission Chair Tamura Tomoko revealed that the Defense Ministry attempted to offer an external party the personal information of plaintiffs in a lawsuit demanding a ban on nighttime flights at the U.S. Yokota base. It is unacceptable for the national government to arbitrarily offer data about people fighting a legal battle against the state to third parties, which is a grave violation of basic human rights and will bring about chilling effects on political dissent.

A bill to establish a basic framework for the total digitalization of society constitutes the backbone of the digital reform bills. What the bill aims to achieve is to “promote the sharing and centralization of information systems” between governments at the national and local levels. In order to achieve this, the bill requires local municipalities across Japan to use a cloud computing system set up by the national government. Accordingly, this system will deal with huge amounts of personal data.

However, there is no mention about the protection of personal information in the bill, which indicates that the government puts emphasis on the utilization of personal data and disregards the people’s right to privacy.

Among the five bills, there is a bill to promote deregulation of personal data protection. The bill seeks to change the current personal data protection legislation to one preventing various organizations in the private and public sectors, such as government organizations and local municipalities, from formulating their own rules for protecting personal information.

Furthermore, there is also a bill to establish a digital agency, which is PM Suga’s key policy. According to the bill, more than 100 of 500 agency staff will be employed from private industries. They will be allowed to hold concurrent positions, have part-time jobs, and work from anywhere. It is highly likely that the management of personal data will become lax while a pattern of cozy public and private ties, including creating rules benefiting certain companies, will further spread. The five bills should be abolished.

Past related article:
> Data aggregation in Amazon Cloud is risky: expert [March 12, 2021]
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