The intentions behind the Personal Information Protection Law, which went into effect in April 2005, are good, but it has contributed to a tendency for organizations to withhold benign information that has significantly useful social value. Ms. Mizuho Fukushima, state minister in charge of consumer affairs, who has jurisdiction over the law, has rightfully called on the consumers’ committee associated with the agency to review the law.

The law, in principle, bars organizations that possess or handle personal information from providing it to third parties without the consent of the people concerned. But for various reasons — misunderstandings of the law, an overly cautious attitude or a desire to use the law to censor information — it has become extremely difficult to obtain personal data for relevant social reasons.

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