Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


We had another meeting to plan our strategy to stop the implementation of the Japanese national ID program. This program, which as already passed as law will assign 11 digit numbers to everyone and will cause to be distributed by the local governments, IC cards that will become ID cards including the national ID. The network architecture is a mess, the security is weak, there is very little in place limiting the use of the collected information, there is no privacy watchdog organization and the privacy bill that is trying to be passed right now actually deliberately allows for the government to use collected information quite freely.

Originally, the privacy bill was supposed to be in place before the national ID could be implemented, but somehow the the bureaucrats have convinced themselves that they could move forward with the national ID without the privacy bill. The privacy bill is very poorly written anyway and doesn't protect us from abuse by the government and is overly restrictive for business.

I have been involved in trying to stop this bill since November last year, but since the law had already been passed (I didn't even know about it!) it's been quite an uphill battle. We are getting close though. There are very few politicians who feel strongly about it so I think we might be able to convince enough politicians to put the program on hold until we can discuss the risks more.

This process has really shown me how broken the law making system is in Japan. Almost everyone we talk to is now against it, but we still can't stop it. It is like a tanker with no one on board.

There is a Japanese web page describing our efforts.


Foma pcmcia card. A 3G data card that does 64K

My new SO504i

Today we had an i-mode council meeting. The i-mode council is a group of advisors for the i-mode group at NTT Docomo. It's an interesting meeting because we get to hear what NTT Docomo is thinking and the discussion is always very interesting.

I tried connect to the DDI Pocket 64K PHS Data network, but suprise suprise, I couldn't connect from the NTT Docomo meeting room. I complained and they lent me a new Foma 3G data card. It's much faster even though it is also only 64K because it doesn't have to go through the switch like the PHS card. It is much more expensive than the PHS network, but this one is Docomo's. On wonder how long I can keep it. ;-)

They also upgraded my SO503i to the new SO504i. The new i-mode phone goes 28.8K which feels MUCH faster than the old 9600 bps 503. The Java i-apli's run much faster and they can run in waiting mode and have news and weather pushed to them. We saw a demo of some old Nintendo games ported to the phone and they basically run as fast as the old game machines and the displays have more pixel depth!

Spam is an issue that has been discussed and discussed. Laws have even been passed about it. The reason I decided to write something now about it is because I've been using a spam filter for awhile and I think it is working. Usually. I also think it represents the proper way of thinking about Spam.

Sen and I have talked about spam a lot and we often talk about how it is yet another basic mistake in the way that the Internet was designed. If only smtp could let you authenticate the user before you received mail, we could make much better mail filter. Alas, this can not be changed now. (Or it would be very difficult.) So we have to come up with some solutions.

The best solution we have found so far is whitelisting. It is a way to make a filter that only lets mail from certain addresses through. Originally Sen had made a script for me where I had a separate mailbox for mail from people who were in my address book. Now we have moved over to TMDA which lets you create white lists, black lists and a variety of other things. I have mine set up so that I can create and maintain my own list of addresses and domains that I want to receive mail from. We also have it set up so that if someone sends mail that is from someone not on the list, they get a message asking to reply and confirm that they are a human being. Once we receive the confirmation, the mail comes through. To filter for humans I don't want to get mail from or for that intelligent spam robot, I can make black lists.

There are still various problems with the system, but it works quite well. I still have it set up so that I have a mailbox for all of the mail that is rejected and I go through this periodically to make sure I did't miss something important.

In Japan, spam has become a huge issue because the recipient has to pay for the mail on i-mode phones. NTT Docomo is trying very hard to deal with this issue with filters of their own, but there are still major problems.

I do think that spam should be solved by certificates, authentication, keys, etc. on the user side and not by some huge central server...


This is Yokoyama-san showing us his new Kyocera PDA. It was recently announced, but they haven't priced it yet. It is fast because there really isn't very much operating system to get in the way of performance. His company, MCT did most of the software inside in Java. He showed us a pretty groovy pinball game and it was FAST. It is running on Tao.

So what it is about embedded systems these days. Except for a very small number of companies, most of them are struggling. I hear they can't get funding in Silicon Valley. (Who can!) There's lot of work to do, but nothing huge and scalable. I think it is because the hardware companies are still in charge of what goes on inside. We need to figure out a new architecture that puts the application guys in charge of the hardware and the semi-conductors.

Yokoyama-san's PDA was definitely cool and impressive, but it probably would have been a lot more impressive if we had been able to design all of the architecture from scratch...

So it looks like my web site is finally ready for a soft launch. Now I have to figure out what to do with the Japanese version... Anyway, thanks Justin, for helping me get this far. I think this blog format is much better than my old static page which I had edit html directly. For anyone who isn't using blog software to do their web page, I highly recommend it. If you don't know what a blog is, google for it. ;-)

Any comments about the site would be really helpful.