by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
internet, japan, regulation

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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  • identicon
    Frank, 2 Jan 2008 @ 4:08pm

    Japan's push to regulate the internet.

    Once again, if they cannot supress others with their will, they will supress their own people. For the one or two percent of the people who would misuse the internet it is not right or honorable that the remainder should pay the price by having their freedom betrayed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2008 @ 4:09pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tom, 2 Jan 2008 @ 6:20pm


      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2008 @ 4:36pm

    I guess you don't know Japan well.

    People here don't take much interest in politics and certainly don't complain about what they're told to do.

    People here don't understand the concept of individual rights and aren't interested in "hypothetical" issues like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Murray, 2 Jan 2008 @ 5:46pm

    worse problems at hand

    banning anything that it finds 'harmful' to protect minors? This is the country where violent bondage porn and used panties are sold in vending machines and they go as far to find harmful content in the internet

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    wrs, 2 Jan 2008 @ 8:52pm

    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 ..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    yogi, 2 Jan 2008 @ 10:56pm

    Proving once again that

    government and freedom just don't mix.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tim Perry, 2 Jan 2008 @ 11:39pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mr Nobody, 3 Jan 2008 @ 11:11am

    On a related note, a Japanese study group on digital content distribution reported that the rights holders aren't insisting on Digital Terresstrial Broadcast scrambling. (Currently about 90% of digital terrestrial channels in Japan are scrambled)


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Martin, 4 Jan 2008 @ 10:08am

    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)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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