We strongly request the withdrawal of the draft Computer Surveillance Bill
JCA-NET Administration Board
May 26, 2011
The Committee on Judicial Affairs of the House of Representatives has initiated a debate on the "Bill for Partly Revising Penal and other Laws to Address Advances in Information Processing" (henceforth "Computer Surveillance Bill"). As we will explain below, the bill gives law enforcement authorities extremely broad powers to monitor and investigate each and every computer user, and grossly infringes upon the right to secrecy of correspondence, freedom of thought and belief, freedom of expression, and the right to privacy. We therefore cannot accept this bill.
(1) The criminalization of computer virus making provides for surveillance of the "creation" process by law enforcement authorities. This will allow law enforcement authorities to arbitrarily monitor computer users on the pretext that they are "suspected of making a computer virus," and give law enforcement authorities the right to carry out compulsory investigation as a preventive measure. As a result, the right to secrecy of correspondence via computer will be severely undermined.
(2) The Computer Surveillance Bill gives law enforcement authorities greater powers in the investigation not only of the crime of making computer viruses but also of all other types of crime. The bill enables law enforcement authorities to seize not only client computers used by users, but also the user data stored in the network servers connected to the client computers, with a single search and seizure warrant.
(3) Under the bill, network providers and network administrators who hold user data and private information will be obliged to keep communication records for up to 60 days and will be forced to copy and submit user data to law enforcement authorities on request; in other words, they will be forced to become "agents" of law enforcement authorities. Network providers and administrators are responsible for protecting the secrecy of correspondence of users and supporting an environment in which users can freely communicate. Under the Computer Surveillance Bill, however, they will be forced to cooperate with investigations by law enforcement authorities and sacrifice user privacy. A society in which those who are responsible for information distribution and communication are forced to become agents of law enforcement authorities is one in which freedom of thought and belief and freedom of speech and expression will cease to exist.
As a Japanese member organisation of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), which is committed to the establishment of people's rights of communication and to fighting surveillance, intervention and censorship by authorities, JCA-NET expresses and emphasizes its support for people's fundamental rights, including secrecy of correspondence, freedom of thought and belief, and freedom of speech and expression, all of which are guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution, and calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Computer Surveillance Bill, which strongly infringes upon these rights.