Great Firewall Of Japan? Japan Proposes Regulating The Internet

from the dissent-is-harmful dept

It appears that the Japanese government is growing a bit jealous of China’s ability to censor anything the government doesn’t like online. The Japanese government has proposed new internet regulations that would effectively do the same thing — requiring Japanese ISPs to filter content that is considered “harmful.” As the article notes, this stems from a long-time regulatory relationship between the government and existing news media in Japan — which has apparently helped keep the same ruling party in power for decades. The internet has now allowed for more open dissent, which the government is hoping to reign in. Of course, the government insists there’s nothing nefarious going on here at all. It says the proposal specifically says it’s not about censorship (which should set off alarm bells that it clearly is about censorship). Instead, they say they just want to protect citizens against harmful materials. That’s the type of soundbite that sounds good, but it’s not supported by the actual proposal. If the government is upset about “harmful” information, then that information itself should be outlawed and those responsible for producing the harmful content should be prosecuted for it. Yet, that’s not what this proposal is about. It’s telling ISPs to determine what’s harmful and to block it. And, as many in Japan are pointing out, mobile operators in the country recently started a “voluntary” effort to filter out harmful info, and it’s blocking lots of perfectly legitimate info to be on the safe side. This proposal may not be quite as extreme as China’s Great Firewall, but it’s clearly a step in that direction.

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Comments on “Great Firewall Of Japan? Japan Proposes Regulating The Internet”

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22 Comments
dorpus says:

Not the whole story

In Japan, courts do not enforce claims of slander, libel, or personal threats. People can make up false accusations about you, post your financial and medical records online, post your credit card number, falsified “criminal records” about you, issue death threats, threaten to burn down your house, call your workplace to spread accusations, do whatever they want. (Of course, Techdirt applauds this sort of “freedom” for people to behave however they please.) This behavior takes place most famously on “2ch” servers hosted in California.

As for “political dissent” in Japan, if it can be called that, it is all about skinheads who post racial hate and complain that the government is too pro-foreign and pro-global-economy. They are not government agents, they are unemployed lowlives whose only outlet is the computer screen and kiddie porn. Any legitimate dissidents wanting greater Western-style freedoms, or question the skinheads in any way, are quickly silenced by the skinheads who issue death threats, and do all the acts described in the first paragraph.

The government’s actions are aimed at the skinheads, who spread false rumors about the news to “interpret” that every crime in Japan is really committed by a Korean pretending to be Japanese, that every charitable cause is run by North Korean agents, that George Bush is really a Jew, or other nonsense.

Alimas says:

Re: Not the whole story

And its thought that censoring the internet is going to help get rid of that problem? Instead of making “false accusations about you, post your financial and medical records online, post your credit card number, falsified “criminal records” about you, issue death threats, threaten to burn down your house, call your workplace to spread accusations” punishable?

That would be like a police force trying to stop a serial rapist by guarding one specific woman out of the population, all the time, against interacting with men.

Either your getting lied to about the motivation or someone in the Japanese government is really stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

What is "harmful" on the net, anyway?

Other than personal info and threats, which are posted on pretty much every forum hosted in any country anyway (4chan, somethingawful and ebaumsworld spring to mind as some of the more prominent ones), what kind of “harmful material” do these proposals claim to block?

Most countries with a sizable internet-enabled population have at least toyed with the idea of censoring or controlling the content their country can receive, but I’ve never actually heard of an example of “harmful material” that could do any damage to someone who accidentally stumbled upon it.

Do they mean porn? Gore? Shock sites? Because all of those can be controlled by a little basic education about the use of the net. Have any examples ever been cited as something that should be blocked completely from the public, rather than letting them choose for themselves whether they want to see it or not?

dorpus says:

Re: What is "harmful" on the net, anyway?

How about kiddie porn? Sites that make fun of holocaust victims? Sites that make fun of handicapped people? Pro-suicide forums where suicide gurus encourage people to commit suicide, as happened with the recent mass suicide in Wales? Sex slave auction sites? Child prostitution solicitation services? Sites that trade advice on harrassing minorities by leaving shit on their door and what not?

If such sites thrive, will we live in a world of “increased opportunities”, therefore “infinite wealth” as Techdirt advocates? Or will we live in a world of hatred and poverty of the heart?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What is "harmful" on the net, anyway?

I actually can’t believe the ignorance (or stupidity) of this post. First of all, yes, free speech covers “making fun of holocaust victims” and handicapped people. Anyone who wants to do that, should be able to. Why not.

Secondly, child porn, child prostitution, racism and suicide have been around far longer than the internet has. If anything, they’ve gone into decline in recent years. Having sites advocating/providing these services open to the public probably makes it easier to track down and find the people running them.

Also, lol’d @ the troll. But responded anyway. So I’ve been troll’d.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re: What is "harmful" on the net, anyway?

So if anyone wants to, do you agree that they should have the freedom to make videos showing your children being raped and burned alive in ovens? We know that such videos have been around far longer than the internet has, and if anything, videos about your children will go into decline after they’re dead. If the anonymous makers of such videos become millionaires, then you should congratulate the “free market” and “infinite wealth” this has brought.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What is

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Also, go away.

Alimas says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What is "harmful" on the net, anyw

I think he actually believes what hes saying, Anon.
Doopus:
Of course they should have the freedom!
You don’t actually believe freedom is possible without that stuff showing up, do you?
If you realize that and are thus just in favor of developing a police state, you shouldn’t expect to find much support on THIS blog.

Move to China. The government completely agrees with you.

bshock (profile) says:

Let's not be too naive

Did you honestly think the days of a free Internet would last forever? Politicians are slow, but even a dog will eventually learn if you kick it often enough. The Internet will be tamed and used by our masters.

The one tiny ray of hope is that this probably constitutes a cycle of sorts. A relatively small group of people finds a new way to route around control channels, the size of the group grows until it has a little influence, and governments crack down, while a relatively small group of people finds a new way to route around control channels…

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