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Privacy International calls for dismantling of Japan ID numbering system

The London-based human rights organisation Privacy International today urged Japanese citizens to boycott their new national identity numbering system. The organisation has called on the Japanese government to acknowledge the dangers created by the system, and to immediately dismantle the project.

Privacy International has warned that the scheme will lead to the most dangerous and comprehensive violation of privacy in recent Japanese history. In the two weeks that it has been operating, dozens of municipalities have experienced computer failures and leakages of personal information. 

Simon Davies, Director of Privacy International, warned:

This situation will become more horrendous with each passing day. The technology and the administrative systems for the system cannot cope with the vast amount of information generated. Countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia have rejected similar proposals because of the risk to personal privacy and individual rights. Japan would be well advised to abandon this dangerous and discredited idea."

Since its formation in 1990, Privacy International has been at the forefront of raising awareness of the dangers of information systems. Its research has consistently highlighted that national ID systems inevitable become an "internal passport", creating extensive problems for millions of citizens who fall victim to computer failures and malicious leakage of their information.

The organisation believes that privacy law cannot prevent these abuses. Mr Davies warned:

The law simply mandates greater surveillance and control through such systems. The only safeguard is a diligent and active citizenry who are prepared to engage in civil disobedience to overthrow an initiative that so blatantly threatens their rights."

Mr Davies added:

It is usually the case that these ID systems are driven by predatory IT companies who make outlandish promises to incompetent administrators who lack the initiative and ability to properly handle their existing information systems."