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Hi Blog. In what I consider to be good and very significant news, the Tokyo District Court ruled that NJ who had their privacy violated, due to National Police Agency leaks of personal information, were entitled to compensation.
This is good news because the government rarely loses in court. Considering past lawsuits covered by Debito.org, the police/GOJ can get away with negligence (Otaru Onsens Case), grievous bodily harm (Valentine Case), and even murder (Suraj Case).
But not privacy violations. Interesting set of priorities. But at least sometimes they can protect NJ too.
Note also what is not being ruled problematic. As mentioned below, it’s not an issue of the NPA sending out moles to spy on NJ and collecting private information on them just because they happen to be Muslim (therefore possible terrorists). It’s an issue of the NPA losing CONTROL of that information. In other words, the privacy breach was not what’s being done by The State, but rather what’s being done by letting it go public. That’s also an interesting set of priorities.
But anyway, somebody was forced to take responsibility for it. Good news for the Muslim community in Japan. More background from the Debito.org Archives on what the NPA was doing to Japan’s Muslim residents (inadequately covered by the article below), and the scandal it caused in 2000, here, here, and here. Arudou Debito
UPDATE JAN 17: I was convinced by a comment to the Japan Times yesterday to remove this entry from the “Good News” category. I now believe that the court approval of official racial profiling of Muslims has made the bad news outweigh the good. That comment below the article.
Tokyo ordered to pay police leak compensation
NHK World, January 15, 2014, courtesy of JK
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been ordered to pay compensation of more than 90 million yen, or about 860,000 dollars, for breach of privacy resulting from a leak of police documents.
The case involves 114 documents related to international terrorism that were leaked online in 2010. They contained the names, addresses and photos of Japanese people and foreigners who provided information to police investigators.
About 2 months after the documents were leaked, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department acknowledged the documents as their own, and pledged protection and support for those whose identities have been revealed.
But the police were never able to identify who was responsible for leaking the documents, which was done with special software that made the leak untraceable. The statute of limitations on the case expired in October.
On Wednesday, the Tokyo District Court ruled in a lawsuit filed by 17 Muslims who claimed that their privacy had been violated.
Presiding judge Masamitsu Shiseki acknowledged that the police created the documents and called intelligence-gathering by investigators an unavoidable measure to prevent international terrorism.
But the judge said the documents were probably leaked by Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department personnel, and held the Superintendent-General responsible for failing to properly manage their intelligence.
One of the plaintiffs told reporters that he felt a bit relieved that the court acknowledged the responsibility of the police. But he said that what he and others really wanted the court to acknowledge was that the police investigation was discriminatory and illegal. He said he was sorry that the court did not find the investigation illegal.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department says it is regrettable that the court did not accept its claims. It also said it will decide whether to appeal the ruling after studying the content of the decision.
COMMENT FROM STEVE JACKMAN AT THE JAPAN TIMES (see full comment here):
So, the Japanese court has legally sanctioned the government to racially profile its Japanese citizens and residents, by giving the Japanese government its official approval and permission to racially profile them based on their religious beliefs. This smacks of the early days of the rise of Nazism, when the Nazis racially profiled Germany’s Jewish population based solely on their religious beliefs.
The Japanese court has ruled that the police can gather information on Japanese citizens and residents, based solely on the reason that they are Muslim. It cited that terrorist attacks had been carried out by Islamic radicals around the world, and the ruling stated that, “There is a sufficient danger that such acts could also occur in Japan”. Never mind, that these muslim citizens and residents have committed no crimes, have nothing to do with terrorism, and that until now Japan has only experienced home grown terrorism, which has nothing to do with its muslim population.
After the court’s verdict, the lawyer for the muslim plaintiffs stated, “The ruling allowed the gathering of information just because an individual happened to be a Muslim”. He further raised concerns about the effects of the court’s ruling in light of the recent enactment in Japan of the state secrets protection law, which defines information related to terrorism as being subject to classification as a state secret. “The gathering of information itself will become a secret and there would be no brakes applied on investigations conducted by those in public security,” he said.[…]
4 comments on “NHK World: Tokyo Court orders Tokyo Metro Govt to compensate Muslim NJ for breach of privacy after NPA document online leaks”
I saw something about this on the NHK evening news (7PM). I was struck by NHK’s failure to even mention that the victims were Muslims. As in this article, only the leaking was portrayed as problematic — the racial profiling that was revealed has basically been upheld. Too bad about that point.
Here’s the JT’s take:
NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Plaintiffs win damages for privacy violation
Tokyo ordered to pay Muslims
KYODO, JAN 16, 2014
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.