Resolution Calling for the Realization of Safeguards for the Right to Privacy in the “Advanced Information and Communications Network Society”
now being utilized for a rapidly growing number of purposes.
We users are enjoying the convenience brought about by ICT, such as collecting various kinds of information via the internet, shopping and using public transportation with electronic money, thereby eliminating the need to carry around loose change or purchase tickets. Such actions by individual users of ICT are routinely recorded and saved as “life-logs” in which private information of users including likes, interests, activities and life patterns are analyzed and used by companies in order to advertize more effectively by narrowing down their target audience (Behavioral Targeting Advertising). Currently, there are no legal restrictions on the collection and use of non-identifiable life logs, and the explanations to and consensus of users are also not clear.
Additionally, in recent years, the number of surveillance cameras installed in public spaces aimed at the “prevention of crimes” has been rapidly increasing and their performance has become more and more advanced. They now have the power to record scenes for a long period of time in the form of digital images which will not deteriorate over time. In addition, it is possible to identify an individual from such recorded digital imagery through the use of facial recognition systems. Furthermore, many automatic license plate readers (named “N-Systems”) have been installed along main streets across the country. These types of surveillance cameras are being installed more and more frequently without any form of control or oversight and the risk is increasing that large numbers of people innocently going about their daily lives could be randomly recorded every day with their personal information being collected and used in the absence of their consent. However, information on how such collected information has been used is not sufficiently disclosed.
Under this current situation in which the acts of individual citizens are being recorded on a massive scale, the government is planning to establish a “Common Number System for Taxation and Social Security,” which integrates the taxpayer identification number and the social security number into a single common number. This system is aimed not only at ensuring the identification of Japanese citizens and foreign residents but also at using the common number in a wide range of important public and private fields, including those involving social security, economics, and consumption. It is possible that this system could lead to the risk of personal information including life-logs on the overall life activities of individuals being grasped by the state (or companies). In addition, there is the further risk that this common number could be fraudulently exploited by another individual as a false identity.
Needless to say, the right to privacy (the right to control personal information) guaranteed by Article 13 of the Constitution is a core human right.
At its 45th Convention on Protection of Human Rights in 2002, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) proposed the establishment of the right to control one’s personal information as a sovereign power of the people over their information. Since then, the “Advanced Information and Communications Network Society” has developed even further, and the JFBA urges the establishment of principles and mechanisms to effectively guarantee the right to control one’s personal information as follows:
- As ICT continues to advance, in order to practically guarantee the right to control one’s personal information, the state should clearly define a mechanism, as a principle of law, under which advance notice should be given to an individual regarding how their information is collected and used in a way that they are able to concretely understand and predict the purpose, etc. of such collection and usage.
- In order to guarantee the above mentioned principle, existing legislation should be modified in order to correspond to the current advanced state of ICT and to cover non-identifiable life logs, etc. In addition, the legislation should establish concrete principles of law, which include the concepts that personal information should be anonymized to the maximum extent possible and that personal information unnecessary for attaining a stated purpose should not be collected.
- The state should not introduce a numbering system allocating a cross-field common number to an individual as it could violate the right to control one’s personal information.
- The state should create a mechanism under which, prior to the development of any new system to collect massive amounts of personal information, it is required to assess the impacts, if any, on privacy and publicly disclose the assessment results, and, if any problems have been found, encourage modifications of the planned system to avoid or alleviate the problems.
- In order to secure safeguards for the right to control one’s personal information, the state should establish a third party body (privacy commissioner) independent from administrative authorities and bestow it with a sufficient level of power, including the authority to conduct investigations.
Thus, the JFBA shall strive to bring about the realization of a society in which the right to control personal information is guaranteed in practice and hereby declares as above.
October 8, 2010, at the JFBA Convention on Protection of Human Rights