Guidelines for Responding to Law Enforcement
Here we explain LINE Corporation's stance towards domestic and overseas law enforcement agencies requesting user information from the LINE app or our other services, and the types of information we can disclose.
1. Basic Stance
2. Information That May Be Disclosed
When it comes to the LINE app, information that may be disclosed to law enforcement agencies can be categorized into the following two types of information.
1. Registered information on a specific user
l Information that the user themselves registered when creating a new LINE account or filling out their public profile. Includes profile picture, display name, email address, phone number, LINE ID, registration date, and so on.
l Users may not have registered information for all of these fields.
l We ask law enforcement agencies to specify the user(s) being targeted in their investigation so that we can restrict disclosure to relevant information only.
2. Information on the communications of a specific user
l Includes information such as date that the communications were sent, the IP address of the device used, text from chats, and other information that falls under "secrecy of communications" as prescribed by the Constitution of Japan and the Telecommunications Business Act.
l As of July 1, 2016, end-to-end encryption has been enabled for chats by default. This means that even if a law enforcement agency were to request disclosure of chat content, even LINE would be unable to decrypt these messages. Please check here for more information on our end-to-end encryption.
l Communications-related information is automatically overwritten as needed. If we receive a disclosure request from law enforcement after this process has already been completed, it will no longer be possible for us to disclose this information.
l We ask law enforcement to specify the time frame for which they seek information so that we can restrict disclosure to relevant information only. In general, we can only disclose up to seven days' worth of chat messages for any specified period.
3. Our Response to Requests for Information Disclosure
The private nature of user information legally obligates LINE to protect this information, as prescribed by the Act on the Protection of Personal Information and the Telecommunications Business Act. As such, we will only disclose information at the behest of law enforcement if the request falls under any of the following and if we also determine disclosure to be appropriate.
1. Requests from Japanese agencies
i. When a warrant has been issued
We will comply with search and seizure and other valid warrants that have been issued by a judge.
ii. When the necessity defense is applicable
We will respond to disclosure requests if we are able to determine that the information is necessary to avert a present danger and thus, would constitute a justifiable infringement on the secrecy of communications. In bearing responsibility for this decision, LINE will consider each case and the circumstances of the associated request with great care before determining whether or not disclosure would be appropriate.
iii. When we have received an investigation-related inquiry and disclosure would not conflict with our legal obligations
We may respond to valid inquiries only if the requested information falls under "2.1 Registered information on a specific user" or any other categories that do not violate the secrecy of communications.
2. Requests from overseas agencies
We will respond to disclosure requests that we have received from the International Police Criminal Organization – INTERPOL (ICPO-INTERPOL) or through diplomatic routes (e.g. via Japanese law enforcement agencies or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). In responding to such requests, we will follow the relevant judicial frameworks for international legal assistance, such as the mutual legal assistance treaties (MLAT) that Japan has with other countries and regions, and the Act on International Assistance in Investigation and Other Related Matters. In each jurisdiction, more information about procedures may be found at the relevant authorities (e.g. the justice ministry, foreign affairs ministry, or law enforcement agencies).
l The information on this page is subject to change without notice.
l LINE may request reimbursement for costs incurred in the course of disclosing information.
l LINE will notify users targeted by disclosure requests if we deem doing so as appropriate. However, we will not notify users when it is not legally permissible to do so, when doing so could potentially lead to a negative consequence (e.g. abduction), or when there are any other reasonable grounds not to do so.
l Procedure for disclosure requests
1. Is there a specific written format that should be used when submitting a request?
No, there is no specific format. For international requests, those made on the grounds of an MLAT should follow the procedures set out by said treaty. For requests that will be sent through diplomatic routes, overseas law enforcement agencies can confirm procedures with their country's government agency (e.g. the foreign affairs ministry), while procedures for requests to be sent via ICPO-INTERPOL can be confirmed with their country's police agency.
2. Can the data in question be preserved in advance for requests that will soon be made via MLATs, diplomatic routes, or ICPO-INTERPOL?
Yes, this is possible. Requests for data preservation can also be submitted beforehand through either an MLAT, diplomatic route, or ICPO-INTERPOL.
3. What is the approximate time frame from between LINE receiving a request and disclosing the information?
The time needed varies, but some cases may require several weeks. Additionally, international requests are more likely to require a longer time frame than domestic requests.
l Information that may be disclosed
1. How long does LINE retain communications-related information?
Communications-related information is retained for the minimum amount of time needed by the service to perform certain functions, such as resending messages when a device temporarily has no signal, or syncing messages across several devices (e.g. across a PC, tablet, and smartphone). We do not publish information on specific retention periods for traffic volume or any other type of data.
1. What is LINE's location?
Please check here for our address.
2. How frequently does LINE cooperate with law enforcement agencies?
More information on this can be found here.