National

Japan moves to tighten rules on handling of browsing history data

JIJI

A government commission has proposed tightening rules on the handling of browsing history data, which can convey personal information to third parties.

The government’s Personal Information Protection Commission made the proposal as part of an outline it compiled Friday.

Browser cookies, which store data on a user’s internet activities, are widely used by companies to place advertisements that reflect the user’s likes and tastes.

Under the current law, such data is not regarded as personal information unless it can lead to personal identification when viewed in combination with other data such as membership information.

Out of concern that companies might use such data to identify individuals, the commission’s outline calls for making it obligatory to obtain the consent of people before providing their data to a third party when it is clear the data includes identifiable personal information.

But the commission did not propose imposing levies on companies violating the information protection law, apparently reflecting the business world’s cautious stance toward such a measure.

The outline also seeks to tighten regulations on overseas firms as the distribution of information has become more globalized. The plan would enable Japanese authorities to force overseas companies handling personal information in Japan to file reports, to give them orders and to carry out on-site inspections.

In addition, the outline included a measure to allow the disclosure of the names of companies that disobey government orders.

The government plans to draw up a bill to revise the law based on the outline and submit it to the next year’s ordinary Diet session,which is expected to start next month.

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