Censored security critic sues Japan

A US computer security expert is suing the Japanese government for allegedly censoring him at a recent conference.

A US computer security expert is suing the Japanese government for allegedly censoring him at a recent conference.

A law firm representing Ejovi Nuwere, chief technology officer of SecurityLab Technologies, filed the suit for violation of freedom of speech in Tokyo, claiming punitive damages of ¥30m (£155,000), according to his attorney Tsutomu Shimizu.

Nuwere claimed officials of Japan's security ministry forced him to abandon a presentation on security issues related to Japan's online citizen registry network, called Juki Net.

Juki Net is a national network of databases that contain the names and personal details of nearly everyone who lives in Japan. It has been mired in controversy, particularly over its security.

Nuwere had intended to talk about a security audit he and Japanese experts conducted last year, which compromised servers in part of the system maintained by one of Japan's regional governments.

According to Nuwere, he was forced to cancel his talk after Japanese government officials demanded that he remove a series of slides and not voice his conclusions about the audit. He claims the proposed revisions were so drastic as to amount to censorship.

"The Japanese government has no right to tell anyone, citizen or non-citizen, that they cannot speak," he said. "We should all be entitled to think and speak our own opinion, free from government oversight."

Nuwere said he had filed the suit because officials had done little or nothing to resolve disagreements about the contents of the speech, despite his offers to try to reach agreement.

According to Shimizu, legal proceedings could take more than a year.

Paul Kallender writes for IDG News Service

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