Government’s move to monitor online sparks public outcry, AJW (Asahi Shimbun), August 24, 2011:
While the government defends its new monitoring program of online postings concerning the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to stem the spread of “inaccurate” information, critics say it harkens back to Big Brother.
The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said tweets on Twitter and postings to blogs will be monitored for groundless and inaccurate information that could inflame and mislead the public. [...]
But critics are skeptical about the agency’s motive, especially because the government has been under fire for failing to provide an accurate picture of what has been occurring at the plant and the spread of radioactive contamination. [...]
The agency said the Internet is overrun by discussions that are often unsubstantiated. One example, it said, is a posting that recommended mouthwash containing iodine as a safeguard against possible exposure to radiation. [...]
An official at the agency in charge of the undertaking acknowledged that the government had problems in regards to handling the information. [...]
The government’s ‘project’ began this month and will likely continue until March, according to AJW.
July 29 statement released under the name of the president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations “denounced the project… arguing it threatens to infringe on freedom of speech”:
“The government will likely restrict free discussions by unilaterally criticizing what it regards as ‘inaccurate’ and imperil freedom of expression.”
Lawyer Kazuo Hizumi “raised doubts about the legitimacy of government surveillance”:
“Many people look to online information because they do not trust what the government says [...] Providing accurate information is what the government is supposed to do in the first place; not spending money on a project to interfere with circulation of information.”
Published: August 25th, 2011 at 6:03 am ET