Japan to investigate messaging app Line over Chinese data breach – Republic TV


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The Japanese government will launch a probe against its locally based messaging app provider Line Corp. over reports of a breach of user data by the Chinese engineers. According to sources of Japan Times, the personal information linked to nearly  86 million Line app users in Japan was compromised owing to the firm’s allegedly ‘flawed protection guidelines’ that say, the app can transfer customer’s personal information to countries overseas, without naming anyone in specific. 

Technicians of Chinese origin at a Shanghai affiliate entrusted with SoftBank’s Z Holdings company’s system management obtained access to the confidential details of the customers such as telephone numbers, home, and email address, etc without their consent dating as far back as 2018. 

As the firm rejected the allegations of any ‘wrongdoing’ citing company policies, the officials at Line engaged in a spat with the Japanese government, who under its digital laws, prohibits the transfer or sharing of user data without prior consent. According to the public broadcaster NHK, Japan now plans to launch a legal inquiry into the matter under its privacy regulation that safeguards citizens’ confidential information.

Line trashes reports

Meanwhile, in a statement posted on its website, the Japanese messaging app firm Line Corp said: “No unauthorized access or information leakage has occurred to “LINE” from the outside.” it added, “ Users’ Talk texts on “LINE” and highly private personal information (name, phone number, email address, LINE ID, talk text, etc.,) is confidential.” Further, the company stated that the texts and call contents between users on its platform are encrypted, and “it is not possible to check the contents of the data just by accessing the database.” Customers’ data is protected via end-to-end encryption protocol called “Letter Sealing” developed by LINE, the firm explained, adding that such information cannot be viewed “even by our server administrators.”

Used by nearly 186 million people a month in more than 230 countries and regions, including Japan, the Line app runs operations from bases across seven countries, namely Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Taiwan. “We have developed internal tools that work in accordance with the security policy to monitor timelines and open chats at bases and by the contractors of overseas group companies,” the Japanese firm said, denying reports of the breach. 

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