Home Affairs Ministry to push Internet users to use their real names in an effort against the “hotbed of evil”

I recently discovered Technorati Japan‘s beta site, which is exactly the same as Technorati in English except it’s in Japanese and geared toward Japanese Internet users. The coolest thing about it for me so far is the fact that you can look at what books, CDs, and (most importantly for this site) news stories that Japanese bloggers are discussing at the moment. With that I bring you this latest story, ripped from Technorati Japan:

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (Somusho) has toughened its stance on eliminating anonymity on the Internet, thereby pushing people to use their real names so they can safely use the net, which has been cited as a “hotbed of harmful information.” They will decide on specific plans with the Education Ministry to encourage the use of technologies with a low level of anonymity such as blogs (diary-like sites) and SNS (Social Networking Sites) at elementary schools.

This suggestion will be included in the final report of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ “Information Frontier Research Council” to be issued next week.

As the number of people using the internet domestically increases, developments such as the growth of suicide sites and bomb-making guides making their way onto the Net show that the Internet is flooded with harmful information that can lead to crime. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has reached the conclusion that in order to eliminate those negative aspects and make the Internet contribute to the development of the economic system, it is imperative to urge the use of people’s real names and improve the Internet’s trustworthiness.

Comment: Make no mistake: The Somusho is taking dead aim at 2-channel, Winny, and all the other anonymous web sites that have been the backbone of Internet activity in Japan since it got popular. They have heard every horror story about the suicide sites and piracy and are falling all over themselves trying to keep it from being a long-term trend. I’m not sure what to make of it — there are a lot of unhealthy things going on over at 2-chan, that’s for sure (Stay tuned and you’ll see an extended post on 2ch in due time). But then again, brainwashing the children of Japan to put their real names on the Net doesn’t seem like it’ll do much good. Here’s what some blogs are saying about this (thanks again, Technorati!):

From Garter House Annex:

This just makes me sigh.. My strength is leaving me. OK, here’s what I think:

Clearly anonymity does play a part in the dissemination of bad information. I don’t deny that. Nevertheless, I think the negative long-term impacts of repressing anonymous expression will far outdo any positives. Well, you could leave it at “There go the politicians again, going ahead without thinking about such things.”

I’m sure some official would excuse this activity by saying that simply urging isn’t a regulation, but in fact it has the same effect to the person who would be regulated. This is just official-speak and doesn’t fly with the general public.

Since I’m just judging from a news story I might be totally off, but let me give 2 slightly more specific opinions:
1. If they are really putting a priority on “contributing to the economic system”
then they are an era too late! Instead of worrying about the “economic system” they should worry about the development of “society.” If they do that then I think the pros and cons are more obvious.
2. I don’t know whether Yahoo added this or if it was said by Somusho, but I’d like go beyond my difference in position with the government to advise them that they should stop calling the Internet a “hotbed of evil”. Did they rip off “axis of evil” or simply appropriate it ignorantly? If it’s the former they just don’t understand what’s going on, and if it’s the latter then they are just too ignorant for words (Though I couldn’t imagine they would be). It’s ridiculous whichever way you slice it.

5 thoughts on “Home Affairs Ministry to push Internet users to use their real names in an effort against the “hotbed of evil””

  1. Of course it’s bunk, and sadly it’s the sort of bunk that I believe every single government in the world is trying to pull. At least the ones of countries that are rich enough to have many internet users.

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