JAPAN: Assembly Chief Leaks Requester’s Data

16 January 2004

The Asahi Shimbun (Japan) reports on a Nagano man, who applied for the release of travel data on three assembly members who had gone on business trips using public funds, and found that government officials leaked his personal data to the very people he was requesting information on.

The leaked data included the man’s name, address and other private details, the sources said. The Nagano resident had requested the data under a prefectural information disclosure ordinance.

After the request was filed, the administrative office told Minoru Kobayashi, the assembly president, about it. Kobayashi decided the three assembly members should know the man was snooping into their travel records. He instructed the office to call the three and tell them the man’s personal data, which was also later faxed to the assembly members.

“We told the assembly members after the president decided that they should know,’ an office staffer said. “We have done the same thing on other occasions.’

Tsutomu Shimizu, a lawyer at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations who specializes in private information protection, called the matter a “grave situation.’

“It shatters the foundations of the disclosure system. Collusion between assembly members and the secretariat to leak private data makes it impossible for residents to feel comfortable asking for information,’ he said.

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