On November 11, 2011, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) gave written guidance to Google, Inc. and requested a report on plans for preventive measures the state thereof, since it had been recognized that there was a risk of violation concerning the “secrecy of communications” provided for in Article 4 of the Telecommunications Business Act (Act No. 86 of 1986; hereinafter, the “Act”) due to conduct by Google, Inc. in Japan involving reception and partial recording of communications via wireless LAN.
1. Case summary
(1) In view of the announcement on May 14, 2010 that Google US, Inc. had been erroneously receiving some communications via wireless LAN when photographing road areas from its street view cars*, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) requested that Google, Inc. provide a report on all facts in reference to the provisions in Article 4 of the Act (Secrecy of communications).
(2) A report from Google, Inc. confirmed the fact that in accordance with policy from Google US, Inc. there are wireless receivers installed in street view cars for the purpose of improving the company's “Google Maps” service, and that there had been reception and partial recording of communications via wireless LAN when photographing road areas from its street view cars in Japan from December 2007 (see enclosed document for summary illustration).
(3) Furthermore, Google, Inc. has reported that the communicated text erroneously received and recorded in this case has not been read or utilized; that since this case has come to light Google US, Inc. has imposed strict controls for storage with access restrictions applied; and that collection of information by street view cars via wireless LAN was stopped immediately after this case was confirmed.
*Automobiles running in town areas, equipped with cameras, etc. to photograph road areas (street views) that can be browsed together with maps in the “Google Maps” location information search service.
2. Measures based on Telecommunications Business Act
(1) It has been recognized that there were risks connected to violation of “secrecy of communications” provided for in Article 4 of the Act due to conduct involving reception and partial recording of communications via wireless LAN provided by telecommunications carriers.
(2) Therefore, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has given guidance to Google, Inc. concerning prevention of recurrence as well as compliance to the Act, and has also requested implementation of the following items. Please note that (A) and (B) are to be implemented quickly and reported on thereafter, while (C) is to be carried out promptly after the requested report has been issued.
(A) Deletion of records (excluding items prior to establishment of communications) stored on servers provided by current services concerning communications via wireless LAN services provided by telecommunications carriers
(B) Decision on policy to prevent recurrence of the case regarding collection/recording of information relating to communications after the establishment of communications, and to ensure future compliance
(C) Publication in Japanese of details regarding this case, the state of dealing with said case, and policy for prevention of recurrence, etc.
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International Policy Division,
Global ICT Strategy Bureau, MIC
TEL: +81 3 5253 5374 / FAX: +81 3 5253 5924