Net cafe users face ID checks, online logs as cops counter cybercrime

An Internet Cafe in Japan

TOKYO (majirox news) – Computer users at Japanese Internet cafes will have to undergo compulsory ID checks and have their online history logged under a National Policy Agency (NPA) plan to combat cybercrime, according to NPA on June 24.

NPA officials said that the anonymity provided by Net cafe computers has created a breeding ground for cyber criminals engaging in such acts as online fraud or sale of child pornography.

Police want to ensure users provide ID and their time online is logged and saved when using computers at Net cafes, which the NPA regard as part of the cybercrime infrastructure.

It is worth noting not everyone believes that this will have a big impact fighting cybercrime.

“This is largely symbolic and will not be very effective as there are many ways to bypass it,” said IT expert Hiro Sato, based in Tokyo. “Anyone with criminal intent will go elsewhere, and stay out of the open.”

Many Net cafes currently do not require users to provide ID to use computers, which allows them to be used for illegal activity with less likelihood of being tracked down.

“There needs to be traceability to prove what happened at the Internet cafes and what you accessed, which will be difficult, as there are so many ways to get around it,” Sato said.

For example, he says, most browsers now support anonymous browse modes and how do you prove someone else didn’t use the computer while that person visited the restroom.

“People can also go to many non-Internet cafes to get open access to Internet or access through public wireless networks,” he said. “The Internet is designed to be an open network; it is going to be very difficult to prevent crime by restricting access at physical locations.”

Mazaki Hayashi, an IT researcher, agrees that people committing crimes in Net cafes are not likely professional.

“The criminals know how to use cybercrime and are not going to Net cafes,” he says. “What I’m worried about is the infringement on freedom of speech due to this move. I don’t like any regulations confining freedom.”

NPA officials decided to form an expert panel comprised of such members as Internet businesses and lawyers to discuss creating a system to identify Net cafe computer users.

Nevertheless, the system won’t make a big difference, noted Sato. “It’s like putting a fence around the forest to keep the birds out.”

catmakino@majiroxnews.com
robert@majiroxnews.com

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