Nobuo Ikeda has recently been attacking me. I wrote about this before. He recently wrote an email to Dave Farber's list attacking me again. This attack seems to have more substance so I have tried to address his points. I wonder if this is the "critical debate" I've been fighting for. ;-p
My comments are in italics.
From: IKEDA Nobuo
To: Dave Farber
Subject: Re: [IP] revolution in Japan
Date: Thu, 06 Feb 2003 20:58:40 +0900
I can't understand what Jo Ito means by "revolution", but I am afraid that he is preventing the evolution of the Internet in Japan. Yesterday we had a symposium titled "E-Governmet for Whom?"
I don't think anyone other than Ikeda-san thinks I'm am preventing the evolution of the Internet so I won't address this point directly. If he would elaborate, I will happily defend my position.
http://www.rieti.go.jp/jp/events/03020501/info.html (in Japanese)
We discussed the National ID problem, to which Ito is opposing strongly.
His colleague is arguing "I don't want to be a number". We concluded that it was a non-probelm whether people become numbers or not, because they are already numbered and could be searched by their names and addresses. Try Google.
Universal numbers are more dangerous than name/address combinations. Anyone trying to merge databases knows that it is very difficult and much more expensive to merge databases that don't have unique serial numbers. Google is useful, but there is very little information about me on Google that I have not made explicitly available. The government has ID information of whistle blowers, FOIA requesters, people who subscribe to subversive newsletters, face recognition data for blacklists for a variety of government agencies and arrest records (including people who were not charged). This information is often leaked. A universal numbering system will make it much easier for this information to be abused. The numbering system has been passed without clear guidelines about the government use of personal information. Also, privacy enhancing technologies and better architecture could have significantly reduced he risk of personal information being leaked by the government, but such suggestions were ignored and the system set up before thorough public debate. For instance, since the ID cards will be smart cards, why were 11 digit human readable numbers chosen instead of longer non-human readable numbers? Why were static numbers chosen instead of some sort of session key based authentication system?
Ito insists that Japanese govt should strengthen the privacy bill to enforce "self-information control rights" to allow everybody to control all data that contain his/her name. In our symposium, we agreed that it was very dangerous to empower everybody to "censor" the personal data. Even the notorious EU directive is not enforcing such a strong restriction.
I would like to clarify that I think that the privacy bill regulating non-government entities is fine or in some ways too strong. My primary issue with the privacy bill is that it has much weaker restrictions on the use and cross-refrencing of personal information by the government. There is no watch-dog organization which oversees privacy violations by the government, the bill is VERY loose about the government's use of personal information. The Japanese government in notoriously abusive of information about individuals.
Yesterday I discussed it with a Microsoft official, and today I talked about it with an Intel official. They encouraged me to stop such a dangerous "privacy" bill that regulates the Net.
Again, I think that self-regulation and disclosure of privacy policies by commercial enterprises is sufficient. My main concern is the abuse by the government. The government watches us, but who watches them?
Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry