Japan is changing laws mandating the use of floppy disks • The Register

Japan’s Digital Minister Karo Tono has promised to repeal laws requiring floppy disks and CD-ROMs to be used when sending data to the country’s government.

This news emerged Tuesday at the 5th Digital Society Concept Conference in Japan, which outlined a strategy for future government digital services. Japan seems poised to go down the well-trodden path of issuing its citizens with a national ID card — called MyNumber in this case — to give them access to various government services.

However, since such services inherently involve the uploading of data to government agencies, the minister launched a review of the laws governing this process of submitting information. That effort found more than 1,900 regulations governing how data can be shared with the government — and as explained in this document [PDF in Japanese] – Many require the use of floppy disks or CD-ROMs. New techniques such as uploading information via the Internet are not described, so they are technically not permissible.

Tono promised to rewrite these regulations as soon as possible so that Japan’s digital plan can move forward unhindered.

He’s not the first to try to give Japan a dose of digital transformation: in 2021 ex-prime minister Yoshihide Suga promised to reduce reliance on the use of seals and fax machines. But Suga’s time at the top job was short and his digital agenda wasn’t delivered.

Tono is younger and more tech-savvy, and even has two Twitter accounts, one in Japanese and another inside English.

At the Digital Concept Conference, he endorsed a plan that will help Japan’s government address its lack of technical skills, improve its communications infrastructure, and even implement Web3.

While regulations requiring the use of floppy disks are undoubtedly archaic, Japan is not the only company requiring its citizens to use outdated technology. Just last year South Korea ended usage ActiveX controls on some government websites, putting Microsoft’s attempt to counter Java in the late 1990s on well-deserved pause.

The Australian government used a flat-file database to push welfare payments well into the late 2010s.

China still uses “chops,” a type of seal that gives the owner official control over a company. The renegade CEO of Arm China was able to keep his power after being fired thanks to him retention the Hack company.

In the US, the Internal Revenue Service manually processes millions of paper tax returns each year, with employees opening the envelopes and hand-typing details from the submitted forms rather than using automation and OCR. The Washington Post recently documented the mess in one photo post.

US government websites, e.g. B. the document register of the Federal Court of Justice PACER and the Trademark Electronic Search System both offer an experience that would have felt fresh and modern in the days of Netscape Navigator, the first web browser that gained widespread popularity in the mid-1990s. Both even look like they might contain the fortunately deprecated {BLINK}.* HTML tag.

And, of course, the world is still littered with mainframes: who could forget the governor of the US state of New Jersey, who asked for help from “Kobalt” programmers – he opined COBOL – when COVID-19 lockdowns meant very old apps needed to be scaled? ®

* Using the tag caused text to blink when viewed in a browser. We used braces here because our publishing system doesn’t like invalid tags inside angle brackets. As it should be.

https://www.theregister.com/2022/08/31/japan_floppy_disk_ban/ Japan is changing laws mandating the use of floppy disks • The Register

Laura Coffey

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