Japan's government scales back Line app usage over security issue

Nikkei -- Mar 20
Japan's government is scaling back its use of the popular messaging app Line and investigating how it is employed across municipalities, as the service comes under scrutiny over data security.

Line's operator acknowledged earlier this week that employees of an affiliate in China had been able to view users' personal information. Now Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and Cabinet Secretariat will suspend use of the app for anything that includes personal data. The ministry will also ask Line to report what happened in greater detail, Nikkei has learned.

Communications Minister Ryota Takeda told a news conference on Friday that this means halting recruitment activities, solicitation of opinions and inquiries through Line. The ministry will ask all local governments to report on their Line usage by March 26.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said during a budget committee meeting on Friday that the government will "make efforts to ensure security" on Line. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters the same day that the secretariat is "planning to suspend the use of [services involving] personal information until the management concerns about personal information are dispelled."

Line on Wednesday confirmed reports that four employees of an affiliated company in China had been able to access user data stored on servers inside Japan. While the company said no data was leaked, the revelation came amid heightened concern in the government and among political parties about overseas exposure of information.

In a meeting with officials of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Line explained that only authorized people had been able to see the information, and that there were no inappropriate cases.

The city of Ichikawa, in Tokyo's neighboring Chiba Prefecture, was quick to partially suspend its use of Line on Wednesday. It moved to halt an application service for obtaining copies of resident certificates. According to the city, applications using Line only accounted for about 1% of the total.

- Nikkei

無料通信アプリ『LINE』利用者の個人情報が中国の子会社から閲覧できるようになっていた問題で、政府の個人情報保護委員会は19日、LINEに対して報告を求めたことを明らかにしました。個人情報が適切に管理されていたかなどの事実関係を、23日までに報告するよう求めたといいます。この問題をめぐり、内閣官房や総務省、大阪市では19日、相次いでLINEの使用停止を決めています。 - ANNnewsCH