Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I was just appointed committee member of the Committee for the Protection of Identification Information for the City of Yokohama. I was appointed by Hiroshi Nakada, the mayor of Yokohama. Yokohama is one of the most active opponents of the Japanese Basic Resident Code system and has made it optional for the residents of the City of Yokohama. Mayor Nakada argues (rightly) that the current Basic Resident Code law is illegal because there is not sufficient privacy protection as originally mandated in the law. This argument is quite valid until the privacy bill passes. The privacy bill is being deliberated in the Diet at this moment. I believe, and have said publicly, that this privacy bill currently being drafted is too strong on business and too lenient on bureaucrats and would not constitute strong privacy vis a vis the issue of National ID.

Currently of the 3,450,000 residents of Yokohama, 845,000 people have opted out of receiving national ID's. When the privacy bill passes, it is likely that Yokohama will have to hook its network up to the national network. Yokohama has passed a local bill and created this small committee of five people to advise the mayor who has made it clear in the bill that Yokohama would disconnect their local system from other prefectures and the national system in the event that there was evidence of privacy failures in the system. The bill states that the mayor will seek the advice of the committee to judge whether such privacy breaches have occurred and what they should do about it.

The press conference just ended so there is no press yet, but I will provide links if there is any press coverage.

Mayor Nakada is 38 year old, young for a Japanese mayor. He was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum this year.

1 Comment

Citizens' group of Yokohama against the Basic Residential Records Network has complaints about the way how the records of the people who opted out are treated.

All residential records were once sent to BRRN in the trial operation before 5th August, 2002. Kanagawa Prefecture and BRRN National Center refused to erase those trial records of Yokohama. Then, Yokohama City decided to send authorized erasure ("shokken shoukyo" in Japanese) for records of opted-out people when the city send the records of people who did not opt out.

Complaints of citizens' group are:

  • Authorized erasure is basically used when a record becomes invalid, but in this case, records in the city are valid. This means that records in the city and records in the BRRN become inconsistent.
  • Use of authorized erasure in this case may be illegal.
  • Sending of authorized erasure is not a real erasure of the record in the BRRN. In the BRRN, the record seems to remain and to be marked as authorized erasure. Then that is not a real opt-out, and moreover, most of "authorized erasure" in Yokohama are opt-out, so BRRN operators can know who wanted to opt out of the BRRN in Yokohama.