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Kyodo News: Chinese Company Accesses Personal Information of Japanese LINE Users

On March 17, Kyodo News reported that technical personnel of companies in China had accessed the personal information of Japanese LINE users.

LINE is a freeware app for instant communications on electronic devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, and personal computers. LINE users exchange texts, images, video, and audio, and conduct free VoIP conversations and video conferences. There are more than 86 million users in Japan.  In addition, local governments and companies in Japan also use LINE as infrastructure to serve the public.

According to Kyodo News, LINE stated that since the summer of 2018, four technicians from Chinese companies working with LINE on artificial intelligence development have been able to access servers in Japan and view information during the development process. In addition to names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses, the information that was accessible also includes the content of the reports by users to LINE about improper conversations.

LINE’s terms of use for users do not explain overseas access. LINE reported to the Personal Information Protection Committee of the Japanese Government on the grounds that there were problems with the measures to prevent such overseas access.  A third-party committee consisting of experts will be set up to investigate the incident.

Source: Kyodo News, March 17, 2021