Japan's Big Push To Regulate The Internet

from the politicians-should-stay-away dept

When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Considering that the only real tool politicians have is the ability to regulate, it’s no wonder they try to regulate everything in sight. The Inquirer points us to a report about some efforts underway in Japan to dramatically increase regulation over the internet in a variety of different realms. The first area would be to expand what the Japanese “Broadcast Law” covers to include almost all web content. The law was intended to regulate broadcast content, but by adding in the phrase “open communication” it will now also include just about any public information put on the web, including newsgroups, bulletin boards and blogs. Once that’s in place, the Japanese government will then be able to go after any content it finds “harmful,” which seems rather loosely defined itself. The second change would push mobile phone operators to put in place various filters to block “harmful” content from minors — though, again that definition of harmful is loosely described. The report notes that some operators already have such filters in place (though they’re not mandatory) and it includes blocking various social network sites and some sites based on politics or sexual orientation. The final change would be to Japanese copyright law that currently says it’s legal to download songs for personal use. The change would be to get rid of that exception. At this point, it sounds like all of these proposals are under review, rather than already put in place, but as the article notes, they don’t seem to have received very much press attention, despite being major changes concerning internet regulations. All of these changes seem to be the type that politicians like. They all make the politicians look good for either “protecting the children” or helping out big industry lobbyists — but which do little to actually help the people the government is supposed to represent.

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Comments on “Japan's Big Push To Regulate The Internet”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Rather than assuming that corrupt politicians again are trying to make themselves look good with these regulations, I am going to go with a much simpler assumption.

Pure, irrational fear is why politicians make these laws concerning regulation of the internet. They fear for their children, pure and simple.

As for copyright extension, I have no explanation to explain away the corruption. I think I am going to with the corruption theory on this one.

We need not to confuse incompetence with actual malicious intentions.

Tom says:

Re: Re:

Actually, go with the really simple explanation: greed and power. Remember, power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
They really could give a damn about “the children”; when an opportunity to control other people presents itself, they go for it.
We’ve all seen it when we were growing up: the kid who owned the baseball thought he could make the rules. And if we didn’t do it his way, the game was over.

wrs (profile) says:

A Suspected Benefit of Extending Broadcast Law to

It’s blogger.com, hence backlinking doesn’t work properly. Therefore, here my manual trackback:

“… Mike Masnick over at Techdirt summarizes what might happen to Japan soon — that Japan’s broadcast law might get extended to online content in the near future. When I read his summary, immediately it reminded me to what happend to Germany a few years ago — a rather similar thing. In Germany, about 2005 or 2006, broadcast law became extended …”

Tim Perry says:

Hyperbolics Gone Too Far

“Harmful”? Did I miss something!? What on the internet is harmful…to anyone!? Is there a website called punchintheface.com and if you visit it you get a punch in the face!?

Let me let everyone in on a newsflash, porn is not harmful, it’s just naked people, and people having sex and almost everyone is going to be exposed to that in one way or another at some point in their lives, it won’t kill them. Another newsflash, profanity is not harmful it’s just words, and sometimes those words will offend someone but it is by no means harmful.

Now I understand where people are coming from, they don’t want children exposed to that…but isn’t it the parent’s responsibility to teach their kids about that stuff and to monitor their Internet, not the government’s? Also, what about the adults, why can’t they watch porn?

But put all that aside, with such a loose definition exists a major problem, and that is that they can censor political dissent and opposition. It’s not the government’s job to censor the media, it’s the viewer’s job to change the channel.

Martin says:

Seems to be the same in all "free" societys

in europe there are many states considering the same regulations as described in Your article. I think that most free societies will be proxying all there traffic in the near future. I ask myself how there’re gonna set laws to criminate encrypted traffic, but I’m sure they’ll make something out.

Sad to see that they all behave the same and that most populations are not concerned about it.

(Please excuse any typos, I’m not a native speaker)

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