[ISN] Japanese government, U.S. security expert meet in court

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Jan 26 02:31:28 EST 2005


Paul Kallender
IDG News Service
Tokyo Bureau 

A U.S. security expert appearing in a Tokyo court on Tuesday accused
the Japanese government of pushing a dagger against the heart of free

Ejovi Nuwere, chief technology officer of SecurityLab Technologies
Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts, is suing the Japanese government for
¥30 million (US$291,000) for allegedly censoring his criticisms of
Japan's online citizens registry database, called Juki Net.

In a lawsuit filed last November against Japan's Ministry of Internal
Affairs and Communications (MIC), Nuwere alleged that the ministry
stopped him from making a presentation at a conference earlier that
month in which he planned to discuss his concerns about the security
of the database. He said he brought the case to defend his human
rights under the Japanese constitution.

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 security concerns, since
before its launch in 2003.

Nuwere was one of three experts hired by the Nagano prefectural
government to test the security of the system last year. The experts
successfully managed to compromise servers in part of the system
maintained by the prefectural government. Nuwere had intended to
describe these experiences in his talk.

In his deposition, which he read to the Tokyo court on Tuesday, Nuwere
alleged that the MIC had put pressure on both him and the conference
organizers, forcing him to cancel his speech shortly before he went on
stage. This last-minute interference came after a month of
negotiations between Nuwere and the MIC, and after the ministry had
ignored requests to discuss their objections to the speech, Nuwere

Accompanied by his lawyer, Tsutomu Shimizu, and facing three judges at
the Tokyo Regional Court, Nuwere spent about five minutes reading out
his deposition as a nine-member legal team representing the government
looked on.

"The government should not be allowed to censor thoughts, opinions and
speech in a democracy," Nuwere told the judges.

"We must constantly challenge any attempt to ignore the constitution.  
If we don't ... it will only be a piece of paper with words and
signatures, an insignificant document," he said.

Nuwere also alleged that the MIC had already partially admitted
censoring parts of Nuwere's speech in a Jan. 18 response to his
initial petition.

"The government has pushed a dagger ever so slightly against the heart
of free speech in this country," Nuwere told the court.

The Nagano prefectural government had expressed no concerns about his
presentation, and as a security expert with 10 years of experience he
understood the confidentiality agreements he had been required to
honor when making his presentation, Nuwere said in an interview
outside the court.

Throughout his deposition he made repeated references to the notion
that he was one person defending his rights against the power of the
Japanese government.

"I thought it quite interesting that they had prepared an army of
lawyers against me," he said in the interview.

Lawyers for the government are scheduled to present their opening
statement at a hearing on March 22. Contacted by telephone Tuesday,
the government's lawyers declined to comment on the case.

The two sides are expected to have gathered the evidence needed for
trial by the end of August, Shimizu said outside the court.

"I am going to play the best hand I can with the cards that I have
been dealt," he said.

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