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Japan to regulate IT giants’ personal data collection under Antimonopoly Law

  • March 6, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 9:05 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 6 (Jiji Press) — The Japan Fair Trade Commission plans to regulate the collection of personal data by global information technology giants under the existing antimonopoly law, informed sources said Wednesday.

The JFTC is considering how to interpret the law for this purpose and which cases would constitute an abuse of advantageous positions, a type of behavior prohibited by the law. The commission is also looking to draw up related guidelines, according to the sources.

The antitrust watchdog is expected to finish work on the matter this summer or later.

The domestic law has so far applied to cartel and other cases involving business-to-business transactions. On Wednesday, however, JFTC Secretary General Akinori Yamada told a press conference, “We don’t think transactions with consumers are excluded from the law’s coverage.”

The move comes amid mounting criticism, mainly outside Japan, of IT giants’ commercial use of personal data, including browsing logs, without the consent of consumers.

Meanwhile, the abuse of advantageous positions under the Japanese law has been recognized mainly in cases of large companies forcing their suppliers to accept unfair business terms.

In January, the JFTC launched a broader investigation into transactions by tech giants, also known as platformers, including Google Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Inc., with the view to strengthening regulation of them.

But at the same time, there are concerns that excessive regulations could hamper technological innovation, including at startups.

The commission is expected to conclude the probe next month.

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