Japan adds Twitter to the list of internet services banned in elections

Last year I blogged about the unusual attitude towards the internet in Japan:

It’s been a democracy for over 50 years.

60% of its population has access to high speed broadband.

More blogs are written in its native language than in any other language.

And the country is … Japan, where: “Once an official campaign has started, candidates are barred from updating their home pages, launching or amending blogs—podcasts are allowed because the law applies only to text or images—posting political statements or sending text messages to mobile phones. Additional regulations prohibit donors from using credit cards online to support candidates, effectively preventing online fundraising.”

It is then at least in keeping with Japanese electoral traditional for Twitter to now be banned too:

Japan’s cabinet has placed a ban on candidates using Twitter for the country’s upcoming House of Representatives election campaign.

Citing the Public Offices Election Law, the government has deemed Twitter content to fall under the “literature and images” clause within the law. (The Blog Herald. Hat-tip: er… Twitter.)

Last year there were some signs in local elections of the public being willing to go around this law, with YouTube being used to cover political speeches and Wikipedia being updated during election campaigns. Although the police sent out warnings, no arrests were made. So perhaps the Twitter ban in practice will simply further encourage people to ignore the law.

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