“Harmful Rumors” Law Revisited

Revisiting the “Harmful Rumors” law
Many who were active in following the 3-11 disaster early on remember the actions taken by the Japanese government that raised major concerns about free speech and online privacy. Referred to frequently online as the “Harmful Rumors Law”, though it was one law and two government actions. These actions so soon after the triple disaster left many in Japan worried about not just their privacy and free speech but possible run-ins with law enforcement.


Computer Network Monitoring Law:
1. No restriction on monitoring person’s internet activity
2. Forces ISP to store user communication for 3 months without warrant to see. This puts sources and whistleblowers at risk. One user’s communication record would “out” their source. No ability or opportunity for the ISP or person to fight disclosure
3. Involves police in unrestricted access to internet records, emails and texts and other forms of online communication or expression.

On June 17, 2011 the Japanese Parliament passed “The Computer Network Monitoring Law” . Prof. Ibusuki of Seijo Univ. Law Dept. comments that “The Computer Network Monitoring Law will enable the police to monitor anyone’s internet activity without restriction.” Although this appears, on the surface, to be beneficial when targeting cyber-attacks, some Japanese commentators are suggesting that the law is un-Constitutional. (via UK Progressive)

This law make it possible for police to obligate internet servers to store someone’s communication for three months for monitoring purposes without obtaining a court warrant. Prof. Ibusuki of Seijo Univ. Law Dept. comments that “The Computer Network Monitoring Law” will enable the police to monitor anyone’s internet activity without restriction.

(via Japan Focus)
Then, on April 6, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications issued guidance to Internet providers and communications companies, directing them to use their independent judgment in blocking e-mail and text messages, postings on electronic bulletin boards, YouTube videos, etc. that contained terms related to nuclear power, on the grounds that “groundless rumors” and “unreliable information about the nuclear accident could needlessly incite fears among the people.” The circular was issued in the name of interior minister Katayama Yoshihiro.12 (via Japan Focus)

This was the first time in the 66 years since the war that the Japanese government directly intervened to exercise control over the flow of information. Further, on the morning of the day the earthquake hit, the Kan Cabinet approved the draft of a Computer Network Monitoring Law. This law, which modifies criminal statutes concerning conspiracies, requires Internet providers to maintain logs that police and prosecutors can access without a warrant, to monitor who accessed which websites, and the history and content of e-mail and text messages. Until now, in specific organized crime cases, limited seizures of Internet mail have been allowed. But the new law allows authorities to investigate an individual’s data, without a warrant, harkening back to the prewar and wartime Public Security Preservation Law.13″ (via Japan Focus)

Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project: 
1. METI monitoring blogs and twitter related to nuclear issues
2. Accounts and sites posting “inappropriate” content are reported to METI, not just the content itself
3. Collect the “internet accounts used in blogs and twitter”, this is user identification
4. Not just collecting data to shape public education materials
5. METI budget for this project, the contract proposal and the contractors report are all established public documents

Friday, July 15, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (METI) – Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, opened a call for bids (tender) regarding the “Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project”, for contractors to monitor blogs and tweets posted about nuclear power and radiation.” (via UK Progressive)


METI Budget Line Item:

“Surveillance of inaccurate information posted on the Internet  [¥0.2 billion] METI will provide detailed information on the effect of radiation resulting from the recent nuclear incident, keep watch on inaccurate information  if  posted on the Internet and provide correct information against it.”

Translated Summary Of METI Contract Proposal:
translation via: http://blog.safecast.org/2011/07/japan-govt/

The Contractor is required to monitor blogs on nuclear power and radiation issues as well as Twitter accounts (monitoring tweets is essential) around the clock, and conduct research and analysis on incorrect and inappropriate information that would lead to false rumors, and to report such internet accounts to the Agency.

When the Contractor becomes aware of such incorrect and inappropriate information, it is required to publish correct information in Q&A form on the website and Twitter account of the Agency, after consulting with experts and engineers if necessary. The Agency is to be notified of ANY consultant experts and engineers in advance.

The Contractor is required to keep the Agency well informed on the internet accounts and keywords used in the blogs and Twitter accounts that are posting incorrect and inappropriate information. The Contractor is required to maintain sufficient number of personnel for around-the-clock monitoring. The

Contractor is required to submit report on internet accounts via CD-R.
Asatsu-DK ultimately won the contract to do the online data collection for METI

National Police Guidelines To Service Providers:
1. Police working w/ISPs to takedown content
2. Police instructing ISP what content to take down
3. Police monitoring that content is removed
4. The user or account would have to be part of the communication with the police to identify the individual user or service account said to be in violation.

machine translation:
Purpose of the request to the site administrator, etc. 2 Usually, in such as the Internet site, etc. Terms and Conditions are established, Based on this, such as site administrator, and contrary to public order and morals in the site Against such an act that was determined, and seek to stop an act that falls under the user, Where you are and to take appropriate action, such as voluntary or delete their own Be

The Board considers can be expected and we’ll take the appropriate action based on such, prefectural government The police prefecture, for the site administrator, etc., etc. in light of the Terms of Service, voluntarily, It is up to you and ask you to take the appropriate action Between the subject to write of 41 total, for each site from each prefectural police Etc. has been made ​​to the administrator. As a result, 13 writing, such as site administrator We are aware of what was removed voluntarily by


Telecom Services Association – list of some things removed by service providers

Additional Links:




http://blog.safecast.org/2011/07/japan-govt/ (safecast talks of some of their run-ins along with details of the law and effort)


The Computer Network Monitoring Law



Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project



Telecom Services Association – list of things removed



METI Budget



National Police Guidelines



METI statement July 2011 on harmful rumors issue



JapanFocus – citing METI reports to the contrary


Asatsu-DK issues report to METI regarding online information collection




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