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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 May 29 - June 4  > Unregulated surveillance cameras increasing
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2013 May 29 - June 4 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Unregulated surveillance cameras increasing

May 31, 2013
Installation of monitoring cameras under the name of security demand is spreading while no rules on the use of such cameras exist. Vast volumes of security camera footage are provided to the police voluntarily, Akahata reported.

An estimated three million to four million security cameras have been installed throughout Japan. As of March 2012, the number of cameras installed at railway stations alone tripled to 61,000 from 20,000 in 2006.

Lawyer Muto Tadaaki of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations pointed out that police officers request camera footage for crime investigations without warrants and that the very legality of the investigation is thus called into question.

Japan has neither a guideline nor a law regulating the use of surveillance cameras. The JFBA in January 2012 issued a statement calling on the government to create legal regulations on the use of cameras in order to determine appropriate installation sites and a clear stated purpose of the use of cameras.

In contrast, members of the European Union are obliged to follow EU guidelines which endorse basic rules on the collection and utilization of personal information. Even the United States has guidelines on a system using facial recognition technology. The guidelines states that how to use and what types of information collected should be disclosed to those who are captured under the system.

Sofia University professor Tajima Yasuhiko warned that if the lawless use of monitoring cameras by police links up with a national ID system, which was adopted in the current Diet session and mandates all individuals in Japan to have a personal identification number, Japan will very likely turn into a “surveillance state”.
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