[ISN] U.S. security critic sues Japan for censorship

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue Nov 23 06:23:51 EST 2004


By Paul Kallender
NOVEMBER 22, 2004

TOKYO - A U.S. computer security expert is suing the Japanese
government for violation of his freedom of speech, alleging that
officals censored him at a recent computer security conference. The
lawsuit is the first of its kind in Japan, according to his lawyer.

A law firm representing Ejovi Nuwere, chief technology officer of
SecurityLab Technologies Inc. in Boston, filed a petition at the Tokyo
District Court against the Japanese government for punitive damages of
$290,406 for violation of Nuwere's rights under Article 21 of the
Japanese Constitution, according to Nuwere's attorney Tsutomu Shimizu.

Clause one of the article guarantees freedom of speech, press and all
other forms of expression.

The petition was filed following a claim by Nuwere that officials of
Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) forced
him to abandon a presentation he was to have given on Nov. 12 on
security issues related to Japan's online citizen registry network,
called Juki Net.

Juki Net is a national network of databases that contain the names and
personal details of nearly every person residing in Japan. It has been
surrounded by controversy, particularly over its security.

During a security audit conducted last year, Nuwere and Japanese
experts managed to compromise servers in part of the system maintained
by one of Japan's prefectural governments. It was about these
experiences that Nuwere had intended to talk.

Nuwere claims he was forced to cancel his talk after MIC officials
demanded that he remove a series of slides and not voice his
conclusions about the audit. The revisions imposed on the talk were
drastic, and amounted to censorship, he said.

"The [MIC] has no right to tell any one citizen or noncitizen that
they cannot speak," he said. "We should all be entitled to think and
speak our own opinion, free from government oversight," he said.

Nuwere said he felt he should file the suit because the MIC did little
or nothing to resolve disagreements about the contents of the speech,
despite offers by Nuwere to meet with officials to reach an agreement.

"What they did was censorship in its most basic form," he said.

The government will probably respond with a counter-petition in about
a month or six weeks, according to Shimizu.

The plaintiff will then decide whether to reply, and the case will
probably go to court, said Shimizu. If or when this happens, legal
proceedings will probably take more than a year, he said.

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