East Japan Railway Co. this month began selling records of the use of Suica cards--without notifying the cardholders of the sale, it has been learned.
JR East issues the cards, which are pre-paid e-money cards that can double as commuter passes. The cards are used by about 43 million bus and train commuters primarily in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Although JR East says the records are being sold without revealing cardholders' names to a private company for market research purposes, it failed to provide prior notice of such sales to cardholders.
The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has launched an investigation to see if the sales constitute a violation of the Personal Information Protection Law, while warning the railway operator that it should have notified cardholders of the sale of such information to a third party.
Hitachi, Ltd., which is buying the data from JR East, is selling analyzed data for market research purposes, such as each station's traffic level and the types of passengers using them. The analyzed data is estimated to bring in annual sales of at least 5 million yen, according to Hitachi.
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