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Victim of police privacy breach warns against new data laws 

In July 2014, Miwa learned that his movements were being watched by local police and the information on him was passed on to a subsidiary of Chubu Electric Power Co. The subsidiary was planning to construct a wind power facility in Miwa’s community. So, Miwa and some like-minded neighbors opposed to the wind farm met to discuss the matter. It turned out that Ogaki Police Station officers kept a close eye on their meetings and shared the information with employees of the Chubu Electric subsidiary.

Credit:  By Tomoaki Ito, Senior Staff Writer | The Asahi Shimbun | May 13, 2021 | www.asahi.com ~~

A man who police collected information on and then leaked to a third party is speaking out against new laws that he believes could lead to greater monitoring of citizens by the state.

Under the new digital reform measures, government agencies will be allowed to pass on any information on citizens to the private sector after the data is processed so that individuals cannot be identified.

Government officials insist the reforms, which cleared the Diet on May 12, will go a long way in streamlining administrative procedures while also protecting the privacy of individuals.

But after local police shared his name with a company he was protesting against, Tadao Miwa, 72, said he simply does not trust government agencies to handle personal information in a responsible manner. He worries the new legal regime will put convenience for authorities ahead of the privacy rights of citizens.

“I feel this is an effort to create a very dangerous nation that monitors the public in a manner convenient to government officials,” Miwa said.

Miwa was a poultry farmer in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, until 2020, when he closed his farm due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In July 2014, Miwa learned that his movements were being watched by local police and the information on him was passed on to a subsidiary of Chubu Electric Power Co. The subsidiary was planning to construct a wind power facility in Miwa’s community.

So, Miwa and some like-minded neighbors opposed to the wind farm met to discuss the matter. It turned out that Ogaki Police Station officers kept a close eye on their meetings and shared the information with employees of the Chubu Electric subsidiary.

According to internal documents from the subsidiary, Miwa’s group held four meetings over a 10-month period. Local police also passed along information about their participation in other activist causes, their ties to a law firm, as well as the medical histories and background information about others involved in their other shared causes.

Four individuals, including Miwa, whose personal information was leaked, protested to the Gifu prefectural police and demanded an explanation. At first, police stonewalled them.

When the matter was taken up in the Diet in 2015, National Police Agency officials admitted that local police met with subsidiary employees, but described that as “part of normal daily activities.”

Miwa and his group never received an apology, nor an explanation.

In 2016, the four launched a lawsuit seeking compensation from the prefectural government. In a separate legal maneuver, the four also asked the central and prefectural governments to delete the data collected by local police. No rulings have yet been issued in either case.

The subsidiary’s internal documents show that the company did little to address concerns raised by residents. Instead, the documents showed officials discussed how Miwa could be isolated from his neighbors.

The plan for the wind power facility ultimately never got off the ground.

Source:  By Tomoaki Ito, Senior Staff Writer | The Asahi Shimbun | May 13, 2021 | www.asahi.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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