[ISN] Japan: More Crime, Less Privacy.

From: cult hero (jerichoat_private)
Date: Wed Jun 02 1999 - 03:58:30 PDT

  • Next message: cult hero: "Re: [ISN] What's a Little Hacking Between Friends?"

    Forwarded From: William Knowles <erehwonat_private>
    (Wired News) TOKYO [6.2.99] -- Privacy issues have taken center stage as
    Japan prepares to enact legislation allowing the police to eavesdrop on
    phone calls, intercept fax and computer transmissions, and read email.
    The draconian measures are ostensibly intended to help law enforcement
    halt premeditated murders, trafficking in drugs and guns, and smuggling of
    illegal aliens into Japan. 
    At least that's what a bill cobbled together by the country's coalition
    government says.
    The reality could be far more intrusive, especially after investigators
    receive an official green light to comb through private correspondence and
    Japanese citizens' groups -- a hodgepodge of activists with little actual
    influence over policy decisions -- have decried the wiretapping
    legislation as a gross invasion of privacy, and opposition politicians
    boycotted a vote on the legislation last Friday. But the government
    insists that what Japan needs to restore public order is less civil
    liberty and more Big Brother. 
    People here are scared. Crime -- once unthinkable in Japan -- is on the
    rise. The country's yakuza racketeers are growing increasingly bolder in
    their schemes as nearly a full decade of recession eats away at
    traditional revenue sources, such as payoffs from companies and corrupt
    For law-enforcement authorities, the trouble began back in 1995 when Aum
    Shinrikyo cultists released sarin gas in the Tokyo subway, killing a dozen
    people. The cops simply never saw the attack coming, and have been
    agitating for greater surveillance powers as a means of preventing such
    nastiness from happening again.
    Wiretapping is a convenient shortcut for investigators. And, as the
    pervasive eavesdropping of former East Bloc countries made undeniably
    clear, once authorities start listening it's a hard habit to break.
    Yozo Marutake, a former senior executive with a manufacturer of hearing
    aids called Rion, said last week that the Japanese police have been
    bugging phones for decades. How does he know this? Because his company
    sold the cops all their surveillance gear, and had done so since first
    being approached by authorities in 1957, he said.
    So why would the Japanese police now be seeking legal backing for their
    electronic skulking? One reason might have to do with charges from an
    opposition politician last year that his phone had been bugged. The courts
    upheld the politician's claims, although the cops never actually admitted
    being behind the incident.
    The Internet undoubtedly will be a low priority at first for Japan's
    snoops, but this will change as more people, criminals included, go
    online. For now, it looks like the cops are still unsure how to proceed
    where matters of cyberspace are concerned.
    Police last week raided the Sapporo home of an 18-year-old who had posted
    a bunch of hit tunes on his home page using the MP3 compression format.
    The teen, needless to say, hadn't worked out copyright issues in advance
    with related Japanese recording companies.
    Police didn't reveal how they learned about the song-laden site. But they
    said they moved quickly to shut things down after concluding that illegal
    actions were being perpetrated. 
    This only took them three months of monitoring downloads to figure out.
    Subscribe: mail majordomoat_private with "subscribe isn".
    Today's ISN Sponsor: OSAll [www.aviary-mag.com]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 13:24:13 PDT