Encryption Added to Line Messaging App
The Line messaging app will now allow end-to-end messaging encryption. If you are not familiar with Japan-based Line, it is an alternative messaging system that provides free voice calls and text messages to users. A group chat function is available, as is a simple social networking app. Line works similar to iMessage and WhatsApp, and is said to have over 300 million world-wide users, most in Japan and in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia.
This new encryption addition for the Line messaging app will allow Line to compete with other apps by letting users do an end-run around wireless carriers. This feature is called Letter Sealing, and will store the encryption key on the customer’s device instead of on its server. For Line, this means updating their security system, creating even a more secure method of communication. This will give their customers the ability to chat and share content without the fear of private information being disclosed in the server or to a third party. The new encryption scrambles chat content with a key, making it technically impossible to disclose content.
What are users most excited about? Line integrates an overwhelming amount of cuteness into the app. Users can slap stickers and emoji’s into their messages, often in the form of playful, cartoon baby animals. Ducks, bears, and other fun characters are what makes this app most popular. A game involving candy and animal heads is also built into the service.
The new Line encryption feature will first rollout to Android and ioS users. Users will have to switch on encryption, and will only work if it is activated and present on all involved parties device. The new encryption is currently only default for Android registered users but Line plans to add encrypted sealing for desktop and other operating systems. The Line messaging app is also available for BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, Windows and Mac OS.
This new encryption feature could be frustrating for those who want access to user content. Privacy is a big concern, with the Thai government recently announcing that it was able to monitor messages sent by its users. Line denied it to TechCrunch, but it doesn't mean the Thai government wasn't pressing for access to Thai people's private lives. It started requesting access to chat streams in 2013, according to the Associated Press.
Regardless of privacy concerns, Line is expanding outside Japan, where 80 percent of its registered users reside, and is currently focused on markets in India, Turkey, and Western Europe. The App is free to download, as Line makes most of its money from licensed characters like Hello Kitty. Line has also recently begun expanding into additional apps, including both drawing and a calendar.