Japan halts use of Line app for government officials over Chinese data breach – Republic TV

japan-halts-use-of-line-app-for-government-officials-over-chinese-data-breach-–-republic-tv

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday said that his administration has halted the use of the Line messaging app among the government officials as the probe is ongoing into the alleged data breach by the Chinese engineer. Earlier, reports emerged that the Japanese app provider Line Corp’s Chinese affiliate had access to the personal information such as the phone numbers, email, and home addresses of nearly  86 million Japanese Line app users. The Prime Minister of Japan Suga vowed efforts to step up the information and digital security following the data breach as he spoke at a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting. 

“We will stop using [the app] until all relevant concerns in this regard are eliminated,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Friday, according to an ANI report. 

All employees of Suga’s administration as well as those working in the government sector were asked to dismiss the use of the Line app with immediate effect. At the presser, Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Ryota Takeda said the central government issued a notice asking all state administrations to submit reports about their use of Line messengers by March 26. Furthermore, Takeda asked the ministers to halt collecting questionnaires, feedback, or opinions and providing local services or receiving applications on the app owing to the looming security threats. The government found at least 32 server links of the Line Corp. registered with Beijing. 

It was first reported by Japan’s Kyodo news agency that the engineers of  Chinese origin at a Shanghai affiliate entrusted with SoftBank’s Z Holdings company’s system management had access to the Japanese customers’ confidential details. China was able to trace telephone numbers, home, and email addresses, etc of the Line app users without their consent which dated as far back as 2018. 

Line denies allegations

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.”

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