Sunday, April 29, 2012

Personal Data Protection: Coordination Needs to Transcend State Boundaries

Asahi, Japan
  23 April 2012           Edited by Lydia Dallett

With the spread of social networking services on smartphones, and the expansion of cloud businesses centrally handling bulks of user data, the rapid change of telecommunications calls for a new approach toward the protection of personal information.
The U.S. and EU have released a joint statement on the protection of privacy and the promotion of Internet businesses. Japan is lagging behind. We cannot protect personal information without cross-border cooperation and we need to develop conditions that are appropriate for this day and age.
Internet enterprises are competing ruthlessly to develop techniques that will allow them to gain higher advertising rates. In recent years, there has been remarkable progress in the development of technologies that analyze the preferences and life patterns of Internet users, in order to display advertisements tailored to the lifestyle of the individual consumer.
These data collection systems target anything from purchase histories with online mail orders to movement patterns gathered in the form of GPS-tracked location information, or personal connections and relationships stored in email address books. The types of data collected are multiplying ad infinitum.
If we analyze the collective data gathered over an extended period of time, the information accumulated by Internet businesses far exceeds what the individual user is aware of. The private life of the end user is brought into the open and virtual profiles may be created. Furthermore, the data is sometimes managed abroad.
Google U.S. has begun to unify and manage the personal information gathered by around 60 different services and it was this kind of information that caused simultaneous opposition in many countries. Many countries have been collecting data in even more opaque ways.
There has also been controversy about the social network Facebook retaining private information even after users leave the network. In response to this, the EU has proposed the “right to be forgotten online,” which forces social networking sites to delete such data. The Obama administration introduced a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” that includes the right not to be tracked online.
Western third-party organizations, which have a high degree of independence from their national governments, are addressing this issue from a technical point of view and are responsible for international discussions.
Japan established the Personal Information Protection Law in 2003, but its implementation is divided vertically across the ministries. It is flawed in terms of specialization and mobility. If we do not have any independent protection mechanisms, we will be left behind by globalization and technical progress. This is liable to gravely disadvantage the international expansion of Japanese businesses.
“My Number,” the personal identification number system devised by the National Diet, incorporates the establishment of third-party organizations. Its main target, however, are government offices and businesses dealing with ID numbers.
It is necessary to take discussions to the next level, so that we can expand into common European and American security mechanisms, while maintaining compatibility with basic rights such as freedom of speech or freedom of the press.

   Sourced from Watching America

Translated By Sylvie Martlew