Japan Government Restricts Its Use of Line App Due to Cybersecurity Issue

As the famous messaging app Line undergoes investigation regarding cybersecurity, Japan’s government is restricting its usage and examining how it is used throughout the municipalities.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan has decided to prohibit the use of the Line app in anything related to personal information. The Line company will also be asked to provide a more detailed account of the incident.

At a press conference on Friday, Ryota Takeda, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister said that the central government had sent a notice to the local governments, requesting them to report on their use of the Line messaging app by March 26.

Japan Government Restricts Its Use of Line App

The Line app is used by some municipalities to accept a variety of application documents, and deliver information through the app. Takeda stated that the ministry intends to stop using the app for getting public feedback and answering inquiries.

“Proper management (of the app) is necessary to ensure an environment allowing users to feel secure using the service,” Takeda emphasized. The ministry urged its workers not to use the app to share work-related information.

Additionally, during a budget committee meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said about Line that the government will “make efforts to ensure security.”

The Cabinet Secretariat is also “planning to suspend the use of [services involving] personal information until management concerns about personal information are dispelled,” said Katsunobu Kato, Chief Cabinet Secretary to reporters on the same day.

According to Line’s operator on Wednesday, four employees of a Chinese affiliate were able to gain access to users’ personal information stored on Japan’s servers.

While the company said no data was leaked, the news came as the government and political parties expressed growing concern about information being exposed overseas.

Line explained to officials from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in a meeting that only authorized persons had access to the information. The company also clarified that no improper cases had occurred.

Takeda also revealed that Line’s parent company, Z Holdings Corp., has informed the ministry that the Chinese company is no longer permitted to access the data of users in Japan. Besides, a group of external experts will be formed to investigate the situation.

The Personal Information Protection Commission obtained a consignment contract from Line on Thursday. This action is to check that Line complied with policies on cross-border personal data transfers. It will look at the security of the company’s contractors.