Japan — Under the mai nannbaa-ho (マイナンバー法) My Number Act (enacted May 13, 2013, also called the Social Benefits and Tax Number Act), Japan’s citizens will be assigned unique numbers to track income, social security, taxes, welfare and benefits, and certain information in disasters. Japan will start assigning numbers to its citizens in late 2015. The My Number Act brought with it concern about the use of the numbers as a unique national ID. As a result, Japan will establish a new independent Data Protection Authority called the Specific Personal Information Protection Commission, and will consist of a Chairman and six commission members. The Chairman and Commissioners will be appointed by Japan’s Prime Minister, and confirmed by Japan’s National Diet. The Commission will oversee the use of the new Social Security and Tax system numbers. Unlike many national ID numbering systems, Japan did not set up a centralized database for the numbers due to concerns about data breach and privacy.
Professor Hiroshi Miyashita from Japan’s Chuo University, and an Advisor to the Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) — gave a talk Oct. 1 at a Privacy Laws & Business Asia Roundtable in London. He told PL& B that the new Commission is to “ensure the proper handling of personal numbers and other specific personal information, and provide guidance, advice and recommendations.” Professor Miyashita said enforcement powers will be limited to requiring reports and conducting on-site inspections. Additional documents regarding the new DPA indicate that there will be a role for the Commission in overseeing release of personal information in disasters, and that the Commission will also issue guidance regarding the use of identifying numbers.
India’s national biometric ID card — In the May/June, 2013 issue of Foreign Policy Magazine, Pam Dixon writes about the privacy issues related to India’s national biometric ID card. In the piece, Mission Creep, Dixon discusses how government-issued biometric ID cards that serve as national ID cards and as the basis for employment and financial transactions create profound civil liberties and privacy challenges that are neither easily or well-constrained by government policy.
Border Crossing Information System, DHS — The World Privacy Forum submitted public comments today to the Department of Homeland Security regarding its proposed Border Crossing Information System. The BCI system would set up a database of all border crossings via car, rail, air and other means, including collecting identifiable data on the activities of American citizens. Information collected includes biographical and other information such as name, date of birth, gender, a photograph, itinerary information, and the time and location of the border crossing. The WPF comments focus entirely on the proposed Routine Uses of the system. As currently written, the DHS proposal contains some Routine Uses that directly contravene the Privacy Act of 1974 and are illegal. Other Routine Uses are overbroad and vague, and still others contravene guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). One example of an overbroad Routine Use is Routine Use J, which will allow DHS to release data collected for the Border Crossing Information System for hiring decisions or contract awards. This information may be requested by Federal, state, local, tribal, foreign, or international agencies. Another Routine Use, G, impermissibly duplicates and weakens the Privacy Act’s condition of requirement for notice when information is disclosed in certain circumstances.
REAL ID | National ID — The World Privacy Forum and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed joint comments with the Department of Homeland Security about the proposed national ID system, REAL ID. The comments discuss the substantial flaws in the proposed REAL ID system including concerns about the overall structure of the program, the cards, the databases attached to the cards, the lack of controls on “function creep,” the possibilities for discrimination, the potential for increased risk of identity theft, issues related to potential gaps in coverage for recipients on Federal programs, among other issues.