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Cablegate: Japanese Diet Passes Legislation On Harmful

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 172258Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEAWJA/JUSTICE DEPT WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5151
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RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 9011

UNCLAS TOKYO 001659

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINT TINT JA
SUBJECT: JAPANESE DIET PASSES LEGISLATION ON HARMFUL
INTERNET CONTENT

1. (U) Summary: The Japanese Diet on June 11 passed
legislation intended to protect minors from harmful content
on the Internet. The law promotes education on using the
Internet safely/responsibly, but also calls on Internet
Service Providers (ISPs) to provide filtering for young
users. Moving beyond content already illegal in Japan, the
law seeks to restrict access by children under 18 to content
that directly or indirectly encourages suicide or crimes, or
is otherwise harmful. Industry contacts -- including U.S.
company representatives in Japan -- seemed satisfied that
their concerns were considered and expressed commitment to
work with authorities to help address concerns related to
harmful Internet content. End summary.

2. (U) The Japanese Diet June 11 passed the Internet
Restriction Law for Minors. The draft had the backing of
both the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the
opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and was developed
from deliberations of a Ministry of Internal Affairs and
Communications (MIC) committee. The law's goal is to
encourage minors to develop the knowledge and skills to use
the Internet safely and in the meantime provide them a safer
online environment. The law will establish a Council in the
Cabinet Office to develop a strategic plan and basic policies
covering education, technology development, and private
sector partnership. A review of implementation will take
place in three years.

3. (U) The law calls on mobile phone and device companies
that provide Internet access to provide filtering services
for under-age users or to any other user upon request.
Computer makers are to take steps such as pre-installing
filtering software. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should
endeavor to follow notice and takedown rules. Entities
developing filtering technologies may be eligible for
government support. The new Council will develop further
details of implementation.

4. (U) The Japanese public has been alarmed by an increase in
youth suicides associated with suicide websites. They were
also shocked on June 8 when a man wielding a knife killed
seven and wounded 10 people in a Tokyo neighborhood after
posting online that he was "tired of living and wanted to go
out with a bang."

5. (U) The law provisionally outlines three types of harmful
content: content that directly or indirectly encourages
crimes or suicide, sexually explicit content, and distinctly
cruel content. Designated private entities will be
responsible for specifically identifying harmful content.

6. (U) Industry contacts commented they were pleased by the
transparency of the process and that their input was
considered during drafting. This effort, however, still
raises challenging issues. One issue concerns the slide from
filtering harmful content to censorship. Industry was
relieved that the government will not directly take on the
role of monitoring Internet content and determining what
content is/is not permissible. Nevertheless, relying on
third party entities still leaves concerns about eventual
filtering regimes.

7. (SBU) Industry concerns over liability were averted as the
provisions are voluntary. However, major providers such as
Microsoft and Google have expressed their commitment to
collaborate to help find workable regimes. Microsoft for
example, seeking a constructive compromise between providing
a free flow of information and censoring harmful content,
indicated that it had made adjustments to its search engine
parameters so that searches related to suicide would return
first links to suicide counseling resources.

SCHIEFFER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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