The popular messaging app Line is now under investigation by the Japanese government after local media reported that it allowed Chinese engineers at a Shanghai company to access Japanese users’ data without telling them.
According to the report by Reuters, a government official has stated that investigations were ongoing and that they are unable to tell if Line violated any regulations yet. At the same time, a spokesperson from Line denied that the firm broke any laws or regulations.
But on its website, the company later apologised for causing any concern and for inadequately explaining its data management policies to users, adding that no inappropriate access took place.
Local media has reported that four Chinese engineers, tasked with system maintenance, were given access to Japanese servers from 2018 containing names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of users.
The alarm over the incident probably stems from Japan’s often choppy relations and historical unease with China. It doesn’t help that China-backed hackers were blamed for a recent massive breach of Microsoft Exchange email servers.
For what it’s worth, China has acquired a reputation for spying and hacking in the last few years.
Accordingly, researchers at Stanford University last month raised concern over social media app Clubhouse’s affiliation with Shanghai-based company Agora. Also, last month, TikTok settled a privacy lawsuit alleging that it sent user data to Chinese servers or certain locations in which China-based employees could access the data.
Beijing may not like it, but the very mention of China raises suspicion these days.