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Newspaper publishers told the government on Monday that they should be made exempt from pending privacy legislation because its principles may discourage people from talking to the media.

An outline for a basic privacy protection law was submitted on Wednesday by a government panel. The legislation primarily targets private companies with computerized data about individuals.

In an opinion paper released Monday, the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association said the outline, which obliges the media to follow the basic principles of the proposed law, endangers both the media’s ability to gather information and the freedom of the press.

“It is expected that those who are to be reported on could refuse to meet media, citing the basic principles as a pretext. There is not sufficient recognition of ‘the freedom of the press,’ the purpose of which is to fulfill the nation’s right to know,” the association said.

The association, which comprises newspaper publishers, broadcasters and news agencies, is requesting that private information intended for reporting be exempt from the legislation.

The proposed legislation contains five basic principles, requiring, for instance, that the holders of personal information clearly indicate their purpose for collecting it and that they use it only for that purpose.

Another principle requires that transparent rules for information disclosure be made, as well as rules for concerned individuals to revise or correct private information.

They also demand that information be obtained by fair and legitimate manners, and that information gatherers do their best to ensure accuracy and prevent leaks.

The association is concerned that the principles could be used as legal grounds to force the disclosure of anonymous sources, or that they could be used as a pretext for interfering with reporting activities.

The government plans to submit the legislation to the next regular Diet session, which will be convened in January, government officials said.

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