It goes without saying that privacy is valued differently around the world. This isn’t to say that some countries don’t care about privacy, but what they consider to be an invasion of their privacy might be different from another country. That being said it seems that over in Japan, local carrier NTT Docomo has launched five new phones that will let the government track you.
The carrier does not appear to be too shy about that fact and stated that in the past, they have cooperated with the government when it comes to providing location data. Speaking to The Japan Times, an NTT Docomo rep said, “If requested, we provided positional information using the GPS systems on phones to emergency services such as the police, ambulance services and the Japan Coast Guard, in line with proper guidelines.”
The phones in question will allow the authorities to track its owner even if the owner has not given their explicit consent, or without them even knowing about it. Prior to this, such a move would not be possible due to guidelines provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Carriers would have to obtain the permission of users first before providing data to the authorities.
However all of that changed in June 2015 when the ministry decided that this was no longer necessary. The phones in question are the Xperia X Performance, the Galaxy S7 Edge, the Aquos Zeta, the Arrows SV and the Disney Mobile. Unsurprisingly the launch of these devices did not sit well with privacy advocates in the country.
According to lawyer Tsutomu Shimizu, “This is an extreme invasion of privacy. It’s nothing like acknowledging merely which country you’re in. Positional information is highly private because it reveals people’s movements. However, I understand that investigative authorities would need such information in certain situations, so there should be a law passed to help public understanding.”