The Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has made public a program to promote a safe Internet environment. It lists measures the central and local governments and enterprises must carry out by the end of fiscal 2011.
Among other things, they must effectively cope with information on the Internet that is harmful to children and intrudes on individual privacy.
On April 1, the law to restrict the Internet environment for users under the age of 18 went into effect. In principle, Web sites deemed harmful or inappropriate to children will be filtered. But parents can use their judgment to remove the
In preparation for the law's enforcement, the government program called for promotion of the use of filters to block children's access via mobile phones and personal computers to Web sites that are deemed harmful or inappropriate. It also called
for development of filtering services aimed at different age groups and development of functions parents can use to decide which Web sites or categories of Web sites should be filtered. It also called for examining the effectiveness of Internet
service providers' blocking access to Web sites featuring child pornography.
Third-party organizations will certify Web sites as harmless or "R18" indicating the Web site is harmful to children under 18.
Japan's National Police Agency (NPA) is to urge ISPs to voluntarily block communications using anonymisation software Tor .
The move follows a case where PCs were remotely hijacked by computers using the Tor system, which allows users to mask their online identities and locations by routing connections through several servers. This case cause much embarrassment to the
Japanese who incompetently arrested, detained and extracted confessions under duress from the innocent victims of the hijacked computers.
A panel ofthe NPA, which was looking into measures to combat crimes using the Tor system, compiled a report on April 18 stating that blocking online communications at the discretion of site administrators will be effective in preventing such
According to the NPA, while the IP addresses of site visitors are normally known to the visited sites, the Tor system enables users to visit sites or dispatch information without revealing their identities. Over the past several years, the Tor
system was misused in a number of crimes including the posting of online murder threats on Internet bulletin boards, theft of money from accounts via illegal accesses to Internet banking sites, postings on dating sites by those seeking
relationships with children, and leakages of security information from the Metropolitan Police Department.
The police somehow neglected to mention the other side of the coin where the Tor system is utilized by citizens in pro-democracy movements in the Middle East to escape government suppression.
The planned access restrictions are therefore expected to be opposed by the internet industry. Communication privacy is our lifeline. We won't be able to accept such a request, said an industry insider.