DPI16_Banner_300x250 WITH COPY
IAPP-GDPR Web Banners-300x250-FINAL

Jay Ponazecki, Saori Horikawa

On May 19, 2006, the Osaka District Court issued a decision awarding 6,000 yen (approximately $54) to each of the plaintiffs, a small group of subscribers of the Yahoo!BB broadband Internet service, who sued for compensation for the emotional distress that they suffered in connection with the massive security breach that occurred in early 2004. In this incident, a former temporary employee at Softbank BB gave partners a user name and password he had been using when he was working for Softbank BB to access the company computer systems remotely, and the personal information of at least 4.6 million customers of the Yahoo!BB service was accessed and used in an effort to extort approximately 2 billion yen from Softbank.

This case is the first private lawsuit to be filed in connection with this incident. Claims for 100,000 yen (approximately $893) for each plaintiff were made against BB Technology (formerly Softbank BB Corp.) and Yahoo! Japan, but the claim against Yahoo! Japan was rejected, because there was no leakage of information that was managed by Yahoo! Japan and it had no supervisory obligations over BB Technology.

The decision stated that defendant BB Technology had violated its duty of care, as a business that holds a large amount of personal information, to prevent the improper access and leakage of personal information. The court noted that, after the former contract employee left the company, the company did not change the username and password, which were subsequently used by other workers. The court concluded that BB Technology could have foreseen the improper access to the company computer network by the former contract employee, and that the information leakage could have been prevented with appropriate security measures, and awarded a total of 6,000 yen each to the plaintiffs; 5,000 yen in compensation for emotional distress and 1,000 yen for lawyer's fees.

Japan does not have a U.S. style class-action system, and the group of plaintiffs is but a small fraction of the 4.6 million affected customers of Yahoo!BB. After the incident, BB Technology had tried to appease all such subscribers and prevent any such litigation by issuing a 500 yen (approximately $4.50) cash voucher as "apology money" to each subscriber of its Yahoo!BB service. BB Technology may yet decide to appeal the decision, but this case may signal the opening of the floodgates to other private lawsuits of this kindin Japan.

This incident occurred before the Law Concerning the Protection of Personal Information (PIPL) became effective as to the private sector in April 2005. The PIPL does not provide for a private cause of action against businesses handling personal information, but it also does not prevent private litigants from bringing tort claims against businesses handling their personal information.

This Legal Update has been based on reports o the case by the news media, as the courts do not release copies of the decisions to the public.

Reprinted with Permission of Morrison and Foerster.


If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Network and talk privacy at IAPP KnowledgeNet meetings, taking place worldwide.

Women Leading Privacy

Events, volunteer opportunities and more designed to help you give and get career support and expand your network.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

The Training Post—Can’t-Miss Training Updates

Subscribe now to get the latest alerts on training opportunities around the world.

New Web Conferences Added!

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Staff

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Get Close-up

Looking for tools and info on a hot topic? Our close-up pages organize it for you in one easy-to-find place.

Where's Your DPA?

Our interactive DPA locator helps you find data protection authorities and summary of law by country.

IAPP Westin Research Center

See the latest original research from the IAPP Westin fellows.

Looking for Certification Study Resources?

Find out what you need to prepare for your exams

More Resources »

GDPR Comprehensive: Spots Going Fast

With the top minds in the field leading this exceptional program, it's no wonder it's filling quickly. Register now to secure your spot.

Be Part of Something Big: Join the Summit

Registration is open for the Global Privacy Summit 2016. Discounted early bird rates available for a short time, register today!

Data Protection Intensive Returns to London

Registration is now open for the IAPP Europe Data Protection Intensive in London. Check out the program!

P.S.R. Call for Speakers Open!

P.S.R. is THE privacy + cloud security event of the year, and you can take a leading role. Propose a session for this year's program.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

Exhibit at an Event

Put your brand in front of the largest gatherings of privacy pros in the world. Learn more.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»