Thoughts on the prevention of service misuse


When we think of the growth of business, we tend to overlook the risk of the business being misused.


Companies are expected to provide products and services that contribute to the convenience of consumers. However, we must always bear in mind that there will be people who will misuse the products or services for the very reason that they are convenient. Even good products or services might end up losing the support of the market or face criticism from society if they are rife with victims of misuse.
Of course, it is not easy to prevent misuse completely. However, issues can be dealt with differently when they arise if appropriate preparations had been made prior to the launch of the service.
For example, when Yahoo Japan launched Yahoo! Partner in 2006, it embedded features that enabled the traceability of users and prior confirmation of posts so as to prevent the service from being used for prostitution. It also consulted with investigative institutions before launching the service.
As a result, when the Law About Regulation of the Act which Attracts Children Using Internet Opposite-Sex Introduction Sites, etc. (“Online Dating Site Regulation Law”) was enacted in response to social issues caused by the services of other companies, Yahoo! Partner did not have to change its existing service operations; they were already in compliance with the new regulations.
While the cooperation of investigative institutions is essential in pursuing criminals who misuse a service, what is the most important upon seeking their cooperation is for the service provider’s side to devise ways to minimize the possibility of misuse. Obviously, the job of investigative institutions is to capture the criminals of misuse, which they strive to do in earnest, but the proper approach to crime prevention is for the service provider’s side to first establish a system for crime prevention. Society will not accept service providers if they claim they are also victims of service misuse.
We sometimes hear news of company managers or employees who did not take any action knowing that their service was being misused being arrested for assisting the criminals of the misuse. This is the very consequence of having failed to establish a crime prevention system. This kind of blunder must be avoided. This is another reason why a crime prevention system is necessary.
Furthermore, I often hear complaints from other companies that investigative institutions do not act. However, I think this often stems from their dissatisfaction that comes from not understanding the mindset and attitude of investigative institutions. While investigations are usually done by the local police of the victim, the prefectural police headquarters may be involved in some cases and several prefectural police headquarters may conduct joint investigations in cases that extend over several prefectures.
In crimes involving the internet business where victims are scattered all over the country, the service provider may receive many inquiries from police stations across the nation about the same user (suspect). This is because investigations are carried out separately by each prefectural or local police. Since investigation information concerns the privacy of victims, it is not easily shared even within the investigative institution. Investigative institutions act restrictively precisely because they have such strong authority as investigation authority.
One of the keys to addressing the risk of misuse is to consider how to seek the cooperation of investigative institutions by fully understanding the practices of the institutions. (Bessho)