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Economy

Japan antitrust watchdog seeks tougher rules on consumer data

Fair Trade Commission privacy guidelines target likes of Google and Apple

Japan's antitrust regulator has come up with guidelines aimed at preventing big IT companies from using their dominant market positions with respect to people's personal data.

TOKYO -- Japan's Fair Trade Commission plans to tighten controls on attempts by IT platform operators to inappropriately collect and use personal information, Nikkei learned Tuesday.

A draft set of guidelines being worked out by the commission states that any use of personal information, including users' purchase history and location, without their consent constitutes an "abuse of a [commercially] dominant position," a violation specified under Japan's Anti-Monopoly Act.

The act prohibits companies from using their dominant position to force others to accept unfavorable deals.

The guidelines refer to such entities as online shopping malls and search engines whose market positions are so dominant that they no longer have serious rivals. If such companies are found to have violated the guidelines, the antitrust agency will issue business improvement orders, with sanctions for failure to comply.

The guidelines are being drawn up with big information technology players such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.com in mind.

Regulators around world are tightening rules to protect people's personal information. Examples include the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation.

The Japanese fair trade watchdog began working on the guidelines after the government last December developed a policy to stamp out personal data abuse under the Anti-Monopoly Act.

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