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The Privacy Advisor | Japanese privacy leaders look to the future at Hogan Lovells panel Related reading: APEC examines CBPR program, Japan now fully on board

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Secretariat of the Japanese Personal Information Protection Commission Yoshikazu Okamoto and Keio University’s Dr. Fumio Shimpo addressed a crowd of both physical and virtual attendees of a Jan. 11 Hogan Lovells-hosted program. There, they examined how the privacy landscape is shifting in Japan and what it means for the country and abroad. 

Okamoto, who also serves as Japan’s vice-chair of the working party on security and privacy in the digital economy, discussed the amendments of Japan's Act on the Protection of Personal Information, explaining how the revisions would affect each sector of Japanese life, such as transportation, health care and law.

The impacts of the APPI, or at the very least, its focus, is not solely rooted in Japan. Okamoto additionally discussed issues surrounding the amendments and global data transfers. While he said changes in the process have changed minimally, he overviewed Japan’s global data collection procedures for the audience. The country has “three types of legal international transfer,” he said. There’s those to a “designated country,” one that the commission agrees maintains an acceptable level of data protection. Then there’s “systems or institutions maintaining the same level of data protection as Japan,” and the third type, collecting data from the public. He called this technique “very primitive,” but that “Japanese operatives and U.S. operatives normally having a contract or privacy policies” to ensure data is collected rightly.

Originally passed in October 2015, the amendments will go live on May 30, 2017. Okamoto said that while there is no grace period for the adhering to the amendments, he expects companies to use the next few months to prepare themselves. “Now is the time to start getting ready,” he said. “We have provided a lot of information to the private sectors.” Those Japanese guidelines are available, and an English translation is forthcoming, he added.

The earliest result of the amendments is the Personal Information Protection Commission, replacing the Specific Personal Information Protection Commission. Okamoto took time to introduce the nine prime minister-appointed commissioners, discussing their roles and duties.

Shimpo exhorted listeners to speed the pace of the law to match the innovation of artificial intelligence and the internet of things, highlighting the burgeoning tech of the future and its reciprocal relationship to privacy and data protection.

“My main concern is how to struggle with law and regulatory law for robots,” he said. “Laws relating to data protection and privacy ought to be reviewed in large quantity with the progress of the AI network.” In the future, he predicted robots and other AI tech would conform to the laws and regulations crafted in the present, and as such, regulators must get them right.

The negative consequences of AI are a “legal responsibility,” and mistakes in the future will be considered “negligence,” Shimpo said. The fact that “the impact on society based on AI is actually immeasurable at the moment” only underscores this urgency, as do the growing threats.  To that end, regulators should throw their energy behind the “unexpected misuse of smart technology,” he added.  

The panel was co-moderated by Hogan Lovells' Julie Brill and Harriet Pearson, CIPP/US.

photo credit: PeterThoeny Waiting for New Year via photopin (license)

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