Japan to Tighten Screws on Facebook, Google, Other Tech Giants to Ensure Transparency


Japan will tighten regulations to prevent technology giants including Facebook and Google from abusing their market power and having unfair advantage over small businesses, officials said on Tuesday. The new law would oblige tech giants, including Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.com to disclose the terms of contracts with customers and to report to the government about their operations, they said.

Japan’s move followed the global trend – from the United States to Europe and Australia – of tightening the regulatory screws on the online platforms, which have policy makers scrambling to address concerns ranging from anti-trust issues to the spread of “fake news” and hate speech.

Google and Facebook have opposed tighter regulation, while traditional media owners, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, have backed reform.

“We want to put the new law into effect in the way that would make business transactions become transparent without imposing excessive burdens or hampering innovation,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters.

“The new law constitutes a framework for ‘platformers’ to make autonomous efforts to maintain transparency and fairness.”

For protection of personal data, the government will revise the personal information protection law to allow individuals to request digital firms to suspend the use of their data. The law currently regulates the handling of data collected by illicit means.

With regard to the anti-monopoly law, the Fair Trade Commission will revise guidelines to respond to the digital market by evaluating the value of data when inspecting a tie-up of corporations.

The trade watchdog will clarify that unfair acquisition and use of consumers’ personal information by platform companies could correspond to abusing their position.

© Thomson Reuters 2019

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