Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse incidents of personal information leakage in Japan based on Japanese socio‐cultural characteristics of information privacy and to consider how best to develop an effective personal information protection policy that conforms to Japanese situations as well as to the global requirement of personal information protection. Design/methodology/approach – After describing recent incidents of personal information leakage in Japan, the paper examines the defects of the Act on Protection of Personal Information (APPI) that permit these incidents to continue. Subsequently, these incidents and the responses of the Japanese people in a manner that reflects the unique Japanese socio‐cultural characteristics of information privacy are analysed. Finally, the paper proposes a revision of APPI that conforms to these Japanese socio‐cultural characteristics as well as to the global requirement for personal information protection. Findings – Personal information leakage cases and social responses in Japan reflect three Japanese socio‐cultural characteristics: Uchi/Soto awareness, insular collectivism and Hon'ne/Tatemae tradition. An effective law protecting personal information in Japan's cultural environment cannot be made simply by copying the privacy protection laws in western nations. Instead, legal protection of personal information should be drafted that reflects and takes into account these socio‐cultural characteristics. Originality/value – This paper conducts analysis of incidents of personal information leakage in Japan based on Japanese socio‐cultural characteristics. A revision of APPI is proposed on the basis of the analysis. The paper's analysis and proposal would provide a good clue to develop effective measures to protect personal information and the right to information privacy in the global, multicultural information society.
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 27, 2008
Keywords: Database management systems; Data security; Information control; Privacy; Legislation; Japan