Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

New ID requirements for Net cafes unlikely to deter cyber-crimes

22 Comments

From July 1, a new ordinance requiring customers at Internet cafes to show an acceptable form of personal identification went into force in metropolitan Tokyo.

Writing for "Net Observation File No. 26" in Friday (July 30), blogger-journalist Tetsuya Shibui witnessed the following exchange while observing transactions at one such establishment.

Employee: "If you're going to use the Internet, we are required to confirm your ID."

Customer (a salaryman type): "Confirm ID? That's a hassle. Well then, can I just have the room without using the Internet? I want to catch some sleep."

It seems the commuter trains had stopped running and the man was just looking for a cheap place to sack out, with no intention of surfing the web.

Shortly afterwards, a female customer was admitted on the same terms. She did not show any ID either.

The new ordinance, passed by the assembly last spring, had been drawn up by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, which justified the need for such a law to prevent cyber-crimes.

In the MPD's own words, "People have been abusing the Internet's anonymity. In particular, while in the privacy of cubicles they have been engaged in an unending stream of cyber-crimes, such as obtaining illegal access to customer data or posting defamatory remarks about others."

The problem is, the MPD's own statistics on cyber-crime don't appear to justify the new ordinance. Of the 2,163 complaints filed at the MPD's High Tech Crime Prevention Center during 2009, only about 100 cases were said to have originated from Net cafes, and of these, MPD department head Fumio Yamashita, concedes perhaps "a few dozen" were prosecutable.

Thus despite its adoption as a crime prevention measure, the new ordinance is likely to spill over into other issues. As Hitomi Nishimura, a writer well versed on topics related to poverty and homelessness, puts it, "Evicting the so-called 'net cafe refugees' is likely to aggravate social instability."

"Net cafes, which are open to anyone at low cost, have been the place where people who were hard up could muddle along until they found a job and made some money," Nishimura adds. "Places with similar functions should have been provided by the government, so in a sense the Net cafes have actually been functioning like welfare facilities. When you place restrictions on their use, it's tantamount to eliminating this function."

The MPD defends the ordinance, saying new facilities have been provided to house "Net cafe refugees" and that acceptable ID will be issued by applying at any Hello Work employment office. Moreover, the MPD stresses the ordinance does not aim to exclude any specific type of person from cafes.

Friday counters by noting that many cafes were already applying their own in-house measures before the ordinance was passed. For example, the operator of the "Jiyu Kukan" café chain utilized a membership system that required users to show ID at the time of signup. Since many cafes had already adopted self-imposed measures to confirm user identity and refuse entry by unauthorized minors, the ordinance probably affects only a limited number of smaller establishments.

That's why Hitomi Nishimura believes the new law is likely to hit cafe refugees the hardest. "Some don't have acceptable ID," she says. "Some have no cell phone, and they depend on Internet access to respond to classified ads for jobs. It's very possible that the ordinance is going to hurt such people economically."

Shibui concludes the the ordinance ultimately might see Japan's widening gap in income disparities soon extend even to those on society's bottom rung, as people with IDs, cell phones and access to information will further distance themselves from their peers who do not.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
Login to comment

a new ordinance requiring customers at Internet cafes to show an acceptable form of personal identification

Seems the responsible have never heard of a faked ID.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is becoming more and more like a Nazi state. Truly ridiculous.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nishimura adds. “Places with similar functions should have been provided by the government, so in a sense the Net cafes have actually been functioning like welfare facilities. When you place restrictions on their use, it’s tantamount to eliminating this function.”

Very true and soooo sad. I cant believe Japan is considered a 1st world country when they treat their own citizens like this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's getting a bit ridiculous. It seems that we need a special ID or a license to do anything in this country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In order to just reach the wider community outside my own home, I must carry a card. I am treated like a gaikokujin in my own country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

prinzjay -- Japan is only considered a first-world country by those who have never lived here, the Japanese of course, and the foreigners here who have bought into the "but it's safe" line of thinking and don't objectively evaluate Japan any more. This is just another example.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hahaha.

I have to laugh because at least a few of the posters above would do a body scan at the airport in a second and show anyone a passport, even let them make a copy. But showing an id at a net cafe really makes them bristle and bark.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And....Coming soon. Show your ID before you use Public Toilet. Buy Toilet paper before you use it. Bring Water before you use any of the above services.

BUT I am in hurry, I can not control please.... Then "Just Do it".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hehehe.

So you dont do body scan, photo and show your passport at the airport...you bristle & bark ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A friend of mine once lost her wallet late at night and was able to get a few hours of sleep in at a net cafe, cadging some money from kind-hearted souls, until the trains started running again -- just like the salaryman in the story above.

With this law, people stuck in situations like that will be stuck on the streets.

And what happens with information gathered from the IDs that the customers will show? How will it be stored, and in what form? Who gets to see that data? Will the police be forcing cafes to hand this data over as part of some dubious "crime-fighting" initiative?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's very easy to trace back internet traffic to its source. Almost every country has the technology to do so. What they CAN'T tell is who is actually sitting at the computer doing whatever it was that aroused the government's interest. If a cop comes in and says "who was sitting at workstation 5 at 6:18 last night?" without any sort of ID check the clerk is going to say, "Iduhknow."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But there are so many holes in this system (the cafes operated on a shoestring and most of them don't have the manpower to conduct diligent checks) that they are unlikely to keep reliable records of users in any case. Instead of demanding ID they could probably retain usable evidence just by recording the faces of everyone who comes in with a security camera.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm sure any security camera tape would get used along with the ID info. That's a great way to match the person's face to the ID used.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And what happens with information gathered from the IDs that the customers will show?

It will be instantly forgotten by the minimum-wage, sleepy clerk sitting behind the counter trying to read his manga and slurp his cup noodle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not sure what all the fuss is.

The I-Cafe(Wip) I use from time to time has been asking for Id's for years now. The way they work to partake of their services you need to be a member(get a card), membership costs 200Yen and you need to show ID and fill ou t a form giving address, phone-number, etc to become a member.

Article already states that many places(franchises most likely) already require ID to be shown.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

...the ordinance ultimately might see Japan’s widening gap in income disparities soon extend even to those on society’s bottom rung, as people with IDs, cell phones and access to information will further distance themselves from their peers who do not.

My husband lost his job, without a mobile he couldn't register or apply for for temporary day-work. Without my help he couldn't keep his phone. In Japan no mobile phone = no chance of work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Identities are easily stolen, or at least 'borrowed'. Simply looking over someones shoulder can reveal their ID and password and, of course, there are many other methods.

As such, by identifying users, all they're doing is making it easier for criminals to blame the crime on someone else.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That is pointless... if someone wants to do something illegal anonymously at an internet cafe.. they can just use ip proxies.

Requiring an ID for access won't stop anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Excessive regulation in the name of public protection. I am saddened by the though that if the become a trend, Japan will become as bad at violating person freedoms as the USA does in the name on anti-terrorism.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All over the world the laws have been changed in response to anti-terrorist laws. The few times i have been to internet cafes in Japan in 2007 i still had to sign up by writing a registration document. Dont think i had to show personal ID, but i still had to provide the information which was contained in my personal ID anyway. And several countries in europe now are also changing laws for example for buying a cell phone or sim card now so you have to register your ID or social security code when buying a subscription. Unfortunately its extremely few real criminals who are gonna get caught this way, and instead the bureaucratic burden is gonna get bigger.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a pretty typical example of how politics and laws work in Tokyo. They make up new rules based on made up reasons that they can't back up with facts, and we have to live with them regardless. It's not like their constituents want this, they just want to look busy so they can pat themselves on the back.

I say Tokyo because their batting average is way worse than national in terms of harassing the populace.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

champon's story is a good example of how dysfunctional survival in Japan has become. You need your cell phone just to get a job, and you need a job to get a cell phone. End of the day, you rely on your family and relatives. This is how a lot of people get by, and why people without good family connections end up in the streets.

This is why my son's growing up in the US and not Japan. He's free to go there when he grows up if he chooses, maybe it'll be a different country then.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites