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2014 February 19 - 25 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Gov’t aims to provide people’s personal data to security authorities

February 24, 2014
The Abe government is aiming to allow police and security authorities to have access to the so-called “My Number” system, which was introduced under the guise of enhancing services for the general public.

Under the My Number system, the state assigns an ID number to every person living in Japan and manages their personal data. The ruling coalition and other conservative parties railroaded the My Number bill through the Diet in May last year, despite strong opposition from the Japanese Communist Party. The administration is now soliciting opinions from the public on a government ordinance to enforce the law.

The government insisted that the establishment of the ID number system would help increase the efficiency of administrative management in areas such as tax payments and social security benefits. Article 19 of the law in principle bans authorities from using personal data for other purposes unrelated to public services. In Diet discussions, a cabinet official stated that providing private information to security agencies is not the main purpose of this legislation.

At the same time, however, the act permits authorities to use the data for unintended purposes when “there is a need to protect the public interest stipulated by a government ordinance.”

The draft ordinance proposed by the administration intends to provide the data to police and the Public Security Investigation Agency, in the name of preventing subversive activities and juvenile delinquency as well as providing international criminal investigation assistance. It runs counter to the cabinet’s statements previously made in the Diet.

The public security agency is spying daily on the JCP and other pacifist and civil groups. The enforcement ordinance may encourage the security authorities to illegally collect personal information.

Shiraishi Takashi, leader of a civic group opposing the My Number law, criticized the government for enacting the act and then trying to decide on the details about how to apply it.

Past related article:
> Gov’t attempting to introduce ID number system [July 30, 2012]

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