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Review launched into rules governing facial recognition data

  • December 22, 2021
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 5:00 p.m.
  • English Press

By Akada Yasukazu, staff writer


A government panel is considering whether stricter rules are needed for companies that handle facial recognition data.


The Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) is mulling new provisions after East Japan Railway Co. abruptly stopped using facial recognition data in September to track former convicts who may turn up at its stations.


Under the current regime, consent is not required prior to collecting personal data such as names, birthdates and facial profiles.


The only requirement related to facial recognition data is that companies must publicize the objective behind collecting it.


The commission is considering clearly establishing time periods for storing such data, as well as procedures for deleting it.


There are currently no legal requirements concerning the handling of facial recognition data. However, one guideline states that companies that install security cameras must clearly explain what objective the data will be used for and provide a contact phone number for individuals curious about the cameras.


The need for stricter rules comes as a wider range of private sector companies are installing security cameras. JR East obtained approval from the commission to install security cameras in its stations to monitor former convicts who turn up after they have completed their sentence.


But company officials retracted the move almost immediately on the grounds that a social consensus had not emerged regarding use of such data.


The new rules to be established would likely be used for security cameras set up by private sector companies at public venues, such as train stations, airports and shopping malls.


An expert panel will be asked to compile a specific set of rules by next summer.


The Personal Information Protection Law requires the consent of the individual concerned when obtaining such information as their medical and criminal records or political beliefs.


But it remains to be seen if facial recognition data will be covered by that requirement because it would make it virtually impossible to use security cameras for crime prevention.

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