Japan Bets on Personal Data Stores

The Japanese Government has decided to test and promote the relatively new concept called Personal Data Stores, where individuals get control over their own data as opposed to the current digital infrastructure with huge data monopolies controlling most personal data.

“We have formulated two projects with a public and private consortium and initiated mainly by academia. The one is a decentralized personal data store project and the other is a centralized personal data store project,” explained Kiyoshi Mori, Director-General for International Cyber Economy Policy under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Japan. “Both of them are now in a trial period, though a couple of Japanese companies already started their own trials. The details of those two projects are not fixed yet but we would like to have them fixed by early next year.”

Mr Mori explains that they have been struggling to diffuse the concept of proper data rights management in Japan, trying to avoid the dominance of the big data possession by a small number of platform companies and seeking for compatible enforcement of both innovation and privacy protection. Japan is traditionally tougher on privacy as the EU is compare to the US (here’s a good report on Privacy Laws Around the World by Bloomberg)

The personal data projects includes different ways of getting control over one’s own data such as a trust bank for personal information or creating a decentralized personal data store system with personal life repository of deep data in the field of healthcare, purchase records, home electrical appliance management and transportation records.

According to Mr Mori, the ministry is considering of three options for the data portability system: “No1 is the introduction of personal data portability system applicable to the whole personal information like that of the GDPR. No2 is the introduction of the system applicable to some specific fields like the “mi-data” of the U.K. and Green Button of the USA. No3 is the utilization of some database possessed by public organizations,” said Mr Mori whom DataEthics.eu met at a EPDS/BEUC conference September 29th 2016 in Brussels.

Last year a “my number card system” was introduced in Japan after 40 years’ discussion on how to attain the compatibility between the privacy protection and the efficiency of the public services. Next year, a “my number web-portal system” will be introduced to facilitate a smart disclosure of personal data regarding taxation, annual pension and other social welfare issues.

“We really hope that this portal site will encourage people’s more positive attention to data portability and data rights management,” said Mr Mori.

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