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Japan gov't discusses new legislation to boost IT giant regulations

Logos of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are seen on a smartphone display. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japanese government on Friday began discussing new legislation to bolster regulations on domestic and global information technology giants, and protect consumers' privacy amid concern that some companies are abusing their market share to secure growth.

"It is necessary to lead international debate on issues surrounding digital markets in cooperation with other countries," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at the first meeting on competition in digital markets that he chaired at the prime minister's office.

The government is expected to make policy recommendations by the end of the year on formulating new legislation or guidelines. The bills will be presented during the ordinary Diet session to be convened in January.

Global technology giants Google LLC, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., and Amazon.com Inc. in particular have been accused of abusing their massive market share to stifle fair competition and misusing personal data.

U.S. and European authorities have already moved to enhance regulations on such companies, but how to ensure freedom of corporate activities that are crucial for technological innovation remains a challenge.

Critics accuse major IT companies of enforcing business terms and rules that are disadvantageous to smaller partners.

To address the issue, the government is planning to submit legislation to parliament aimed at enhancing transparency in business transactions through the disclosure of terms and conditions.

The government is also planning to table a bill to revise the law on privacy protection next year so individuals will have the right to request that companies stop using their personal data.

To boost privacy protection, the government will consider increasing oversight of foreign companies in new legislation by strengthening the functions of the Personal Information Protection Commission, a government body to monitor the handling of private data.

It also aims to stop improper collection of personal data by companies under new guidelines that will apply antimonopoly regulations to transactions between businesses and individual customers.

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