Major social networks in Japan have been forced to close hundreds if not thousands of online communities alleged to have been used for online dating, whilst police have launched a drive to close unregistered dating sites; all this comes as a result of a new law forcing any sites with dating activity to register with police or shut down.
An attempt to crack down on the popular schoolgirl job of prostitute, euphemised as “enjo kousai”, or compensated dating, is the reason for the ban.
With the choice to close or register, sites have little option, and major social sites Mixi and Mobagetown have been purging any suspect groups.
The major provisions of the restriction are designed to keep minors from accessing the services; ages should be checked by the management, by way of either providing copies or images of official documents certifying age, or by utilising credit cards or similar means to ensure minors are excluded.
With a full list of all the users of such services in hand, operators must also provide full details on demand to police, and can be ordered to close at the discretion of authorities. It appears no oversight of this capability is provided for.
Public access to such sites is also strictly forbidden, with registration now required in all cases.
The ban also lays out restrictions on who can run a site, making it clear that yakuza and convicted lolicon should not be involved.
Posts to a site which attempt to solicit underage sex are strictly forbidden, with a comprehensive variety of posts covered. Fines of up to a million yen are possible for anyone (including the minors) making such offending posts.
Several thousand sites have registered with the authorities; it is not clear how many remain or how many have closed unrecorded as a result of the law. Police continue to hunt the uncooperative sites.
Considering that both the lolicon and the schoolgirls seem intent on actively seeking each other’s company by whatever means, it will be interesting to see if this has the intended effect, or merely popularises other means…
These measures come in the wake of an increasing amount of state mandated Internet censorship in Japan; now all PCs and mobile phones must come with filtering provision, and a nationwide database of “undesirable” sites covering everything from porn to unpalatable political views has been set up.
This database has already been made the subject of ridicule, with vast numbers of sites misclassified by way of entirely opaque processes; more disturbingly, the system has at times been abused by ne’er-do-wells who report innocuous sites they wish to see filtered.
Lax checking ensures that these reports can result in an inappropriate ban, which is only repealed by a report from the website operator, requiring constant vigilance.
ISPs and savvy net users alike have been exasperated at the lack of technical consideration given to the matter by politicians, who in most cases are not well versed in Internet matters.