Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Facing off with the bureaucrats..
Sorry I didn't blog anything yesterday. I've been in overdrive this week with Jun (my chairman) in town and a continuous stream of extremely early morning meetings... Jun was mentioned I that I was spending too much time on this non-work-related stuff. He's right... Anyway...

Yesterday, I started the day with a meeting of our anti-national ID group. I reported on my thoughts of how we should connect the privacy movement with the whistle blower protection law. Since I had the second National ID security oversight committee meeting later in the day, I wanted to get an update from everyone on where things were. One of the things that many of the local governments were asking for was the right to allow their citizens to choose whether they use the National ID system to receive local government services. The ministry had been telling them that that this was not possible. Also, there were some comments that the government was planning to use an extended National ID number as a tax tracking number, which currently is not allowed under the law.

Later in the day, I attended the committee meeting. I made several points. Since they are using Microsoft Windows out-of-the-box, I mentioned that the recent ruling by the DoJ against MS had a clause that made me worried that maybe the US government might include some malicious code in Windows. (There is a clause that says, "any API, interface or other information related to any Microsoft product if lawfully directed not to do so by a governmental agency of competent jurisdiction." Dan writes about it.) Even if they do not, I mentioned that Japan should make an effort to get MS allow us to do a security review of Windows and possibly swap some modules that we do not feel good about. I mentioned that China has successfully made demands on Microsoft and that China was working on desktop Linux for the government.

I told them that should not use the local government ID as the taxpayer ID and that it should be a separate, and hopefully a non-human-readable number.

I mentioned the whistleblower protection bill I was working on and that we should consider building in anonymity and pseudonymity into the law. I said that I thought people should be allowed to anonymously receive clarification on laws and procedure and that they should be allowed to pseudonymously receive guidance and counseling on issues before "going public" with their case, for instance.

Finally, I asked why numbers could not be "opt-in" for the local government ID. I did not receive a satisfactory answer and said that I would like them to explain this to me "off-line".

Hiroo and Larry with the hand on the chin "intelligent" look
Had dinner with Lawrence Lessig again. Today Hiroo Yamagata, who is translating has latest book, set up the dinner with our small Japan chapter of CPSR. The guy on the left in the picture is Mr. Yamagata. He worships Bob and is an ordained minister of the church of the sub-genius. He showed us his card today. I really like Yamagata-san, but I first learn about him when he was translating Timothy Leary's book and objected to my writing the forward. Later he made fun of my in his column in Wired Japan. Being the masochist that I am, I hunted him down (Kobahen, the editor of Wired Japan introduced us over drinks) and I THINK we are friends now. Anyway, I'm a big fan of his twisted and intelligent style. (Larry, don't worry, the translation will be fine.)

Part of the discussion was a continuation of last night's discussion. Why aren't Japanese active? (As in "activists") Listening to the other CPRS folks talk about this made me think that maybe it was a bigger issue than I thought. There are many intelligent people who don't feel like making a big deal about stuff. How can you be AWAKE and still bear not to say anything? Reminds me of The Matrix

Just finished having dinner and am in the cab on the way home... DInner was so interesting that I forgot to take a picture. Joi "always-takes-a-picture" Ito forgot to take a picture. Oh well. You all know what he looks like and we ate in the same restaurant that I took Dan and Noriko to.

It's really great having someone like Larry in Japan. Kara, Megan, Dan... We're on a roll!

Larry can really help push some of the issues I find most frustrating working in Japan. Japanese lawyers don't understand technology and technologists don't understand law. IP is still not considered a very important social issue and the value of "public domain" is greatly un-appreciated in Japan. Also, I think that the one of the biggest risks for Japan is to become irrelevant. Having great thinkers like Larry experiencing Japan ang leaving with an understanding of the issues, but a appreciation for our real assets will be one of the things that will save Japan as we go through the massive changes ahead.

Larry will be in Japan for a few more months. I hope I get to see him again and introduce him to the folks he won't meet at Tokyo University. ;-)

I'm sitting on the inquiry committee where we are revising the consumer protection law. We're discussing provisions to protect whistleblowers. I'm very passionate about this issue. I think that with increasing ability to track people and profile them, we need to protect the identities of whistleblowers. I am proposing that anonymity and pseudonymity using privacy technology should be considered when writing the new law. Certain types of interactions with the government should be allowed in an anonymous way. Currently all whistleblowing and FOIA is on a fully disclosed ID basis without clear protection of the "list" that is created as a result...

The press are here in numbers. Probably because whistleblowing is more common in Japan these days and it is quite clear that they need to be protected.


Suction cup 7 dBi antenna: Mike from Signull Techologies sent me the URL of a spec sheet for their 7 dBi suction cup antenna pictured deployed on automobiles! Wardriving made easy.
I want one of these...