Japanese User Data Information on Line app Exposed to Technicians in China

line messaging appSource: Adobe Stock

The most commonly used social messaging app in Japan and Taiwan is not WhatsApp but Line app. Line Corp., the Tokyo-based subsidiary of Naver Corporation, has found Japanese users’ personal information being accessed by four technicians in China 32 times since 2018, causing controversy.

WhatsApp is by far the world’s largest messaging app, reaching 2 billion users last year, topping penetration levels in European countries, such as 66% in the UK, 87% in the Netherlands, 88% in Spain, and 85% in Italy, according to GlobalWebIndex.

But users are not equally distributed across the globe. In Japan, WhatsApp accounts for only 2% of messaging app users. While the dominant messaging app is Line.

Launched in 2011, Line has accumulated up to 167 million monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2020 and is prevalent in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Indonesia, taking up over 90% of the user base in the former three regions. In Taiwan, Line app is not only used for personal messaging but also more and more commonly adopted for business.

With the fuelled discussion on social apps privacy issues, Line had also set up a privacy page, specifically on Data Privacy Day (28th January) this year allowing users to easily find information. 

Source: Line

However, in March, Line had found Japanese users’ data accessed by technicians from China at least 32 times since 2018. Breached personal information includes name, phone number, and email address.

According to Japanese media, based on personal data protection guidelines, when personal information is to be moved to a third country, users’ permission must be collected beforehand of which they had failed to comply with.

Line has since changed the data ownership to prevent this issue. Regarding the event, Line Taiwan had clarified that no Taiwanese users’ data is stored in China. Data are kept only in Korea and Japan with strict personal information privacy protection guidelines in place and certain issues are impossible to happen.

Line laid emphasis on adopting E2EE technology since 2015 to prevent personal messages from being accessed by any third parties nor Line themselves.


Source: cna (in Mandarin)

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