National / Crime & Legal

Plaintiffs win damages for privacy violation

Tokyo ordered to pay Muslims

Kyodo

The Tokyo District Court ordered the metropolitan government Wednesday to pay ¥90.2 million in damages to 17 Muslims for violating their privacy by leaking their personal data in 2010.

“The data were created by police, held by the Third Foreign Affairs Division of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau and leaked by some insider,” presiding Judge Masamitsu Shiseki said. “The MPD is responsible for having failed to properly supervise the data.”

The plaintiffs are Muslims from Japan, Algeria, Iran, Tunisia and Morocco.

The court said 114 documents about the 17 and other Muslims as well as their society in Japan were leaked on the Internet in 2010, including their names, birth dates, photos, addresses and contacts as collected through the MPD’s international counterterrorism investigations.

The data were downloaded through file-swapping software more than 10,000 times in over 20 countries, it said.

The leak of the data could lead the plaintiffs to be suspected by third parties as terrorists, the ruling said, adding: “The results amount to a grave violation of privacy or defamation.”

The plaintiffs criticized the investigations as an illegal act violating their freedom of religion and filed a criminal complaint with the Tokyo prosecutor’s office. But the office dropped the complaint last August.

Wednesday’s ruling defended the MPD’s collection of such data.