On May 10, the Japanese Government released a report regarding the use of personal information in Big Data applications (available in Japanese). This comes just months after Japan announced plans to provide guidance on data anonymisation as part of the 'Japan Revitalisation Acceleration Programme’ (see our related blog). The report was prepared by the Personal Data Working Group established by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Ministry) as part of the IT Integration Forum. The Ministry hopes that this will help Japanese businesses use Big Data to innovate and develop.

Big Data uses vast amounts of data (often personal) to gather valuable information – for example, about customer trends. A summary of the report points out that most Japanese companies’ use of Big Data has been limited when compared with other world markets. Japanese business appears not to have taken advantage of the opportunities created from data, such as geolocation, radio frequency identification, web logs, and online targeted advertising. The Working Group suggests that one of the reasons why such development has not been as great as it could be relates to concerns about privacy and data protection.

The Working Group focused on three areas aimed at establishing trust between consumers and business in relation to Big Data, and recommends:

  • User-friendly descriptions
  • Use of business credibility ratings and education to businesses on handling personal data
  • Consumer choice about what information is disclosed

The Working Group criticised the practice of providing a single consent mechanism for all types of personal information. It proposed that businesses provide to consumers a comprehensive list of what personal information will be collected and for what purpose, with consumers having the ability to indicate consent for each of the listed items.