Legal bureaus flooded by Net abuses

Kyodo, JIJI

Regional legal affairs bureaus dealt with a record number of cases last year in which the Internet was used to violate people’s rights, the Justice Ministry said Friday.

Violations of individuals’ rights using the Internet jumped 42.6 percent from the previous year to 957 cases, the highest count since officials started compiling comparable data in 2001.

According to the ministry, privacy violations such as posting a person’s contact details or photographs without permission made up 600 of the cases, while there were 342 cases of defamatory posts on online bulletin boards.

The bureaus requested that Internet service providers delete such content.

The regional offices also dealt with record numbers of corporal punishment and school bullying complaints in 2013. They responded to 887 cases of corporal punishment by teachers, 2.4 times the 2012 figure, while bullying cases rose 1.1 percent to 4,034.

The rise in corporal punishment cases is attributed to heightened awareness of the issue in the wake of the 2012 suicide of a 17-year-old high school student in Osaka following physical punishment by his basketball coach, a ministry official said.

Overall, the bureaus took action on 22,437 cases in 2013, down 493 from the previous year, cautioning offenders and mediating between parties, the ministry said.

Ministry officials said improved public recognition of the bureaus as consultation desks may be behind the surge in the number of Internet-linked human rights abuse cases.