The Personal Information Protection Commission said Friday that it will consider legal action against Line Corp. after users’ data was left accessible at a Chinese affiliate.
The government commission said it has demanded that the messaging app provider and its parent, Z Holdings Corp., submit reports on the issue under the personal information protection law.
The two companies were told to report details of their business activities, including a list of its contractors abroad, the scope of personal data in Japan accessible by overseas companies and log data. The deadline for the report is Tuesday.
The companies may be fined up to ¥500,000 if they submit false reports. Violations of the law would result in recommendations or orders for necessary measures to remedy the situation.
In addition, the communications ministry demanded that Line submit a report on the issue, including how the personal information was treated, by April 19 under the telecommunications business law.
Based on the report, the ministry will determine whether administrative punishment or guidance is necessary.
The personal information protection law obliges companies to gain users’ consent when they transfer their info to entities in a foreign country.
The terms of service of the Line app say the operator may transfer users’ information to a third country that doesn’t have laws protecting personal data. But the countries are not mentioned by name.
Meanwhile, the government began investigating the usage of Line by ministry and agency personnel.
Line is used in various administrative services. The government plans to take steps to ensure information security, such as the suspension of services using the app, until the problem is resolved.
“We are again checking the usage of Line (within the government),” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors on Friday.
At a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that the government has been using Line for myriad purposes, but not for the handling of sensitive information.
“We are planning to suspend usage until the concerns are dispelled,” Kato said of the situation at the Cabinet Secretariat.
The communications ministry has halted a system where it receives questions and comments through Line. It also urged municipalities to report their respective usage of the app by March 26.
Speaking to the press after a Cabinet meeting Friday, several ministers said they were using the messaging app for personal communication.
Digital transformation minister Takuya Hirai said he “will not stop using it,” while Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said he is “considering using another app.”
Some local governments, including Chiba Prefecture and the city of Osaka, said Friday that they have stopped using their Line accounts that had provided administrative services and disseminated information.
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