Taiwan Bans Line Message Service on Government PCs

Taiwan banned all government workers from using instant messaging services including Naver Corp.’s Line and Microsoft Corp.’s MSN over security concerns, the Cabinet said in a statement last night.

A ban on downloading the software onto government PCs will also be enforced, with no restriction on personal computers or mobile phones, it said. The statement didn’t elaborate on the nature of the security concerns.

Cyber security was brought to the government’s attention in August after Helsinki-based F-Secure Oyj alleged devices from China’s Xiaomi Corp. collect and transmit personal data to Beijing. Government ministries were asked to investigate possible security concerns on Xiaomi phones and report back within three months, according to the statement.

Last night’s statement came after lawmakers questioned Taiwan’s Premier Jiang Yi-huah over cyber security. Minister of Science and Technology Simon Chang, the National Communications Commission and the economic ministry’s Industrial Development Bureau were instructed to investigate Xiaomi devices, according to the statement.

Microsoft last year announced the company would discontinue its MSN Messenger service and merge it with Skype, a similar service it acquired in 2011.

Sophia Chang, a spokeswoman for Microsoft in Taipei, declined to comment. Fumiko Hayashi, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman for Line, didn’t immediately respond to calls asking for comment.

Xiaomi later apologized for “any concern caused to our users” and said the company would make its MIUI Cloud Messaging service, which collects and transmits personal data, an opt-in feature instead of automatically activating it on all phones.

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