A privacy debate has erupted in Japan over a new service from a major rail operator that sells private e-ticket records as marketing data.
This week East Japan Railway (JR East), the country's largest rail company, has begun offering for sale the anonymized histories of millions of its passengers. The data is gleaned from its Suica train pass system, which is Japan's most popular with 43 million users, roughly equivalent to a third of the national population.
JR East and Hitachi, which will handle the technical aspects of the service, announced it last week via a terse news release that initially drew little attention. But this is the first time Suica information has been sold to third parties, and the news was soon highlighted by prominent bloggers, triggering a discussion that has now spread to Twitter and other online forums.
JR East's service provides details for passengers that use specific stations, such as their sex, the date and time they used the service, and the amount they spent. The company and Hitachi are adamant that no laws are being broken, and JR East says the Suica user contract gives it rights to the passenger data.
Japanese police said they were investigating a possible attack on a U.S. Army base near Tokyo after finding a pair of launchers and a projectile Tuesday following reports of explosions in the vicinity. (usatoday.com)
A Japanese rescue team failed to enter earthquake-hit Nepal twice on Monday as an aircraft used by the team was unable to obtain permission to land on an airport in its capital Kathmandu because of congestion. (Jiji Press)
Police in Tokyo's Nerima Ward said Tuesday that a dead cat was found at the entrance to an elementary school in Sakuradai. It was the third time this month that dead cats have been found in the neighborhood. (Japan Today)
On Monday, prosecutors at the Osaka District Court filed drug charges against a 39-year-old male whose who was arrested after he showed support for marijuana use on the Internet, reports the Sankei Shimbun (April 27). (Tokyo Reporter)
Japan's 140-member supergroup AKB48 is holding its second annual draft next month, in which sub-teams will choose new members from a draft of 48 young hopefuls. And among the finalists is one of the youngest potential members the group has ever seen. (Japan Today)
If you're tired of receiving vacant smiles and flippant customer service at your local grocery store, you may want to make a trip to Japan, where the customer always comes first and every transaction is concluded with a graceful bow. (rocketnews24.com)