Civil Rights & Constitutional Law


Kanagawa police to launch AI-based predictive policing system before Olympics

The Japan Times

YOKOHAMA – The Kanagawa Prefectural Police plan to become the first in the nation to introduce predictive policing, a method of anticipating crimes and accidents using artificial intelligence, sources said Sunday.


New iPhone brings face recognition --and fears -- to the masses

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – Apple will let you unlock the iPhone X with your face -- a move likely to bring facial recognition to the masses, along with concerns over how the technology may be used for nefarious purposes. Apple's newest device, set to go on sale on Friday, is designed to be unlocked with a facial scan with a number of privacy safeguards -- as the data will only be stored on the phone and not in any databases. Unlocking one's phone with a face scan may offer added convenience and security for iPhone users, according to Apple, which claims its "neural engine" for FaceID cannot be tricked by a photo or hacker. While other devices have offered facial recognition, Apple is the first to pack the technology allowing for a three-dimensional scan into a hand-held phone. But despite Apple's safeguards, privacy activists fear the widespread use of facial recognition would "normalize" the technology and open the door to broader use by law enforcement, marketers or others of a largely unregulated tool.


Japan's foreign residents sound off in unprecedented survey on discrimination

The Japan Times

Rent application denials, Japanese-only recruitment and racist taunts are among the most rampant forms of discrimination faced by foreign residents in Japan, according to the results of the country's first nationwide survey on the issue, released Friday. The unprecedented survey of 18,500 expats of varying nationalities at the end of last year paints a comprehensive picture of deeply rooted discrimination in Japan as the nation struggles to acclimate to a recent surge in foreign residents and braces for an even greater surge in tourists in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It also represents the latest in a series of fledgling steps taken by Japan to curb racism, following last year's first-ever video analysis by the Justice Ministry of anti-Korea demonstrations and the enactment of a law to eradicate hate speech. In carrying out the survey, the Justice Ministry commissioned the Center for Human Rights Education and Training, a public foundation, to mail questionnaires to non-Japanese residents in 37 municipalities nationwide. Of the 18,500, 4,252 men and women, or 23.0 percent, provided valid responses.


U.N. votes for Japan co-drafted resolution slamming North Korea for diverting dire food funds to arms programs

The Japan Times

UNITED NATIONS – U.N. member states on Tuesday condemned widespread human rights violations in North Korea and expressed concerns that funds needed to ease the dire humanitarian crisis are spent on Pyongyang's missile and nuclear arms programs. A resolution drafted by Japan and the European Union was adopted by a consensus vote in the General Assembly's committee on humanitarian affairs. Following the vote, diplomats from China, Pyongyang's ally, Russia, Syria, Iran and Cuba took the floor to state they were disassociating themselves from the outcome. The full General Assembly is expected to vote on the measure next month. North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests this year and test-fired a series of missiles, even as 18 million North Koreans out of a total population of 25 million are facing food shortages, Japan's ambassador said.


U.S. police used Facebook, Twitter data to track protesters: ACLU

The Japan Times

SAN FRANCISCO – U.S. police departments used location data and other user information from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to track protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday. Facebook, which also owns Instagram, and Twitter shut off the data access of Geofeedia, the Chicago-based data vendor that provided data to police, in response to the ACLU findings. The report comes amid growing concerns among consumers and regulators about how online data is being used and how closely tech companies are cooperating with the government on surveillance. "These special data deals were allowing the police to sneak in through a side door and use these powerful platforms to track protesters," said Nicole Ozer, the ACLU's technology and civil liberties policy director. The ACLU report found that as recently as July, Geofeedia touted its social media monitoring product as a tool to monitor protests.


Weaponized robot used by Dallas police opens ethical debate

The Japan Times

DALLAS/HOUSTON/LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON – When Dallas police improvised a bomb-carrying robot to kill a sniper, they also kicked off an ethical debate about technology's use as a crime-fighting weapon. In what appears to be an unprecedented tactic, police rigged a bomb-disposal robot to kill an armed suspect in the fatal shootings of five officers in Dallas. While there doesn't appear to be any hard data on the subject, security experts and law enforcement officials said they couldn't recall another time when police deployed a robot with lethal intent. The strategy opens a new chapter in the escalating use of remote-controlled and semi-autonomous devices to fight crime and protect lives. It also raises new questions over when it's appropriate to dispatch a robot to kill dangerous suspects instead of continuing to negotiate their surrender.


China blasts U.S. human rights in tit-for-tat report

The Japan Times

BEIJING – China on Thursday blasted the U.S. on its human rights record in its annual tit-for-tat report, saying money and family connections are corrupting politics and calling U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq a "gross violation of other countries' human rights." The report issued by the Cabinet's State Council Information Office also cited gun crime and excessive use of force by police, and touched on other topics including corruption in the prison system, homelessness, racial conflict and gender pay disparity. "Since the U.S. government can't be bothered to raise a mirror to look at itself, it's up to others to complete the task," the report said. The U.S. is also guilty of rights violations outside its borders, the report said, citing estimates of civilian deaths in Iraqi and Syrian airstrikes, drone attacks and the monitoring of foreign citizens' communications. "America is still committing gross violations of other countries' human rights, viewing lives in other countries as worthless," it said.