Line silently exposed Japan user data to China affiliate

Nikkei -- Mar 18
Technicians at a Chinese company affiliated with the Japanese provider of the Line chat app had access to personal information of users in Japan.

Line Corp. made inadequate disclosures on foreign access to data in its privacy policy. The company has reported the incident to the Personal Information Protection Commission here and said it had already moved to end the Chinese affiliate's access. A third-party committee will soon be set up to investigate, according to a news release by Line on Wednesday.

The affiliate, Line Digital Technology (Shanghai), had four employees who could access user data from a server in Japan since August 2018. The data included names, phone numbers and identification numbers, as well as some messages that were reported by users to Line as inappropriate content. Line said the affiliate was given access to the extent required to perform its job. Line also said it did not know of any unauthorized access at this time.

However, Line said it had already denied Line Digital Technology (Shanghai) permission to access some data between February and March, to "further raise the security level."

Line has around 86 million users in Japan, making it a major component of people's online lives.

Line's privacy policy states that personal data may be transferred to a third country. But it does not mention the possibility of overseas affiliates accessing such data.

In addition, there was not sufficient explanation about the work of foreign companies in monitoring the contents of the profile screen and its bulletin board function, called open chat. Line outsourced the monitoring to a domestic contractor, but it subcontracted the work to a company in Dalian, China.

- Nikkei

日本国内で約8600万人が利用している無料通信アプリ『LINE』で、日本の利用者の個人情報に、中国の子会社の技術者がアクセスしていたことが分かりました。 日本の情報にアクセスしていたのは、AI(人工知能)サービス機能の開発をしているLINEの子会社と、不適切な投稿の監視業務を委託されている中国の会社です。 LINEによりますと、AI開発を行っている子会社の技術者4人が、2018年8月から32回にわたって、利用者の名前、電話番号、メールアドレスなどの個人情報が入っているサーバーにアクセスしていたということです。不適切な投稿の監視している業務委託の会社は、一日で約9万件の書き込みなどを監視していました。 LINEは、電子決済や買い物、新型コロナワクチンの接種予約など、今やインフラの一部と言ってもいいほど利用されています。今回の背景には何があったのでしょうか。テレビ朝日経済部・村角恵梨記者に聞きます。 - ANNnewsCH