Photo/Illutration Information on the website of the Personal Information Protection Commission (Captured from the PPC website)

In the third case of its kind, the Personal Information Protection Commission (PPC) has issued a cease-and-desist order to the operator of a website that releases data about individuals who have declared personal bankruptcy.

According to PPC officials, the site opened around September 2020 as an open database on personal bankruptcies that any user could search.

The site operator boasted of having about 1 million listings.

The PPC received complaints from about 150 individuals who said the website operator demanded they fork over about 3,000 yen ($25) each to have their information deleted from the bankruptcy list.

The PPC issued the cease-and-desist order after the operator ignored a Feb. 18 recommendation from the commission to close down the site to prevent discrimination against people who have declared bankruptcy.

If the order is also ignored, the PPC will consider filing a criminal complaint against the site operator.

Personal bankruptcy information is published in a government gazette, but the consent of the listed individuals is required before such information can be collected into an internet database and released to all users.

In March 2019, the PPC issued an administrative guidance request to an operator of a site that posted personal bankruptcy information on a map that showed where the individual lived. That site was eventually closed down.

In July 2020, the first cease-and-desist orders were issued to two other operators of websites that posted personal bankruptcy information. The orders led to closure of the sites.

(This article was written by Yasuyuki Onaya and Yoshikatsu Nakajima.)