Move over Kurt Cobain, the 90s continue to storm back into fashion with the recent tweet from Japanese Digital Minister Taro Kono where he has single-handedly declared "a war on floppy discs" (sic). Out of widespread use since Bush and Blair were still in power, apparently the humble 3 1⁄2 inch floppy remains popular with the Japanese government along with fax machines and the "Hanko" personal seal.

Kono, seen as by some as rocking the government boat, is not very popular with the civil servants who still use the outdated technology - they fear that any increase in efficiencies could lead to job loss.

While the rest of the world has moved on, the use of the floppy disk has opened up a peculiar set of risks including one case where a man mistakenly was awarded over 46 million yen (around $330k) in COVID relief meant for his entire town.

It turns out that his name was top of a list of town inhabitants due the relief that was shared on a floppy disk with the bank. Concurrently, the town's transfer order was sent to the bank and after a series of mix-ups, only he was awarded the relief.

Having been lucky enough to work in Japan for the last 4 1⁄2 years, I find it strange to see the home of cyberpunk standing side-by-side with the bureaucracy-focused civil service that Kono is trying to modernise. More power to him - thankfully our team have not had to deal with collecting this kind of media in many years.

My experiences of floppy disks go back to my student days where they were used to share versions of the latest games like Doom and Duke Nukem, to when I started in this industry.  

The floppy boot disk was essential to insert into a custodian's computer to bypass it from booting into its operating system and potentially altering data.  We were then able to run software allowing us to generate an image copy onto external media.

If the unthinkable happens and you need to collect and investigate data on a floppy, do not panic as most forensic teams will either have, or be able to access this kind of legacy storage solution.  Entire companies have been founded on renting out ancient DDS, ZIP and JAZ drives; and failing that, there will always be eBay in Japan.

Japan's digital minister has declared war on floppy disks, decades after the technology became largely obsolete, but could encounter opposition from nostalgic devotees inside the country's vast bureaucracy.

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