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Guidebook for Utilization of Camera Images Version 2.0 Formulated

The IoT Acceleration Consortium (ITAC), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) formulated a Guidebook for Utilization of Camera Images Version 2.0 (hereinafter referred to as the “guidebook”) to encourage businesses to utilize camera images and data while taking public privacy and safety into account. The guidebook is a compilation of organized approaches that businesses should carefully consider in conducting a repeat customer analysis* with a camera installed in a specific space, such as a store.

1. Background

METI and MIC established a Camera Image Utilization Sub-Working Group (chair: Mr. Hiroaki Kikuchi, Professor, Meiji University) of the Data Distribution Promotion Working Group (chair: Mr. Hiroyuki Morikawa, Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo) under ITAC. Since then, the sub-working group held discussions concerning approaches that businesses should carefully consider in utilizing camera images and data, compiled discussion results into a Guidebook for Utilization of Camera Images Version 1.0 and released it in January 2017.

Following this effort, the sub-working group held additional discussions, in particular, on a repeat customer analysis of images taken by cameras installed in specific spaces, such as stores, an issue that many businesses requested that METI discuss. Based on the discussion, it compiled a draft proposal for the revision of the guidebook in January 2018, called for public opinions on the proposal from January 18 to February 19, 2018, and received 13 opinions. In light of past discussion results and these opinions, the sub-working group revised the existing guidebook into a Guidebook for Utilization of Camera Images Version 2.0 and also compiled the results of the call for public opinions.

Note: The term “repeat customer analysis” refers to a type of digital image analysis in which an operator installs a camera in a specific space (e.g., a store), and analyzes a series of images of customers taken by the camera over predetermined periods of time utilizing personal identification codes to track customer activity for individual customers that visit one or multiple locations on multiple visits. Through this analysis, an operator is able to identify and to acquire data on the customer in terms of his/her visiting history, lines of movement in the store, purchase history, estimated demographic categorization, (e.g., gender and age-range), and other elements.

2. Summary of the guidebook

1) Goal of the guidebook

The guidebook is a reference for businesses that intend to maintain a positive image in the public eye, rather than a list of mandatory requests that these businesses must undertake. Taking this guidebook as criteria, it is hoped that businesses will set rules for the utilization of camera images and data that are appropriate to individual sectors or business conditions.

 2) Targets of the guidebook

The guidebook targets businesses that are subject to the Act on the Protection of Personal Information (Act No. 57 of 2003) and other related laws and regulations, and that intend to utilize camera images for certain purposes other than those for identification of individuals.
Note: Camera images taken for security reasons are not subject to the guidebook.

3) Key points that businesses should carefully consider

The guidebook provides a compilation of organized approaches that businesses should carefully consider, categorized by basic principle and by situation of image utilization, i.e., prior notice to ordinary citizens, acquisition, handling and management.

4) Use cases

  1. Cameras installed inside stores (for estimation of customer demographics)
  2. Cameras installed inside stores (for creation of customer activity records)
  3. Cameras installed inside stores (for repeat customer analysis)
  4. Cameras pointing outside stores (for measurement of human shapes)
  5. Cameras located outside or in/on vehicles (in which ordinary citizens may inadvertently be photographed)
  6. Cameras installed in station yards (to ascertain crowd sizes)

Note: METI revised version 1.0 of the guidebook to add case examples that address item iii above concerning cameras installed inside stores (for repeat customer analysis).

The guidebook is a compilation of the results of discussion on the key points that businesses should consider, based on the information from use cases and other data provided by businesses as reference. For this reason, version 2.0 is not the final version, and the sub-working group will strive to revise the guidebook through additional discussions if necessary, including discussions on measures to address particular use cases, for which it is expected that demand will increase with the efforts that are being taken to raise public awareness of the guidebook and related follow-up efforts. Through these efforts, the further utilization of camera images among businesses will be promoted.

METI hopes that businesses can effectively utilize the guidebook to make concrete advances in the utilization of camera images and data.

Release date

March 30, 2018

Division in Charge

Information Economy Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau

Related website

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8901, Japan Tel: +81-(0)3-3501-1511
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