Japanese govt warns against Baidu input

By Yang Jing Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-26 23:28:02

Headquarters of Baidu Inc in Beijing Photo: CFP

Baidu Inc, China's largest search engine, said Thursday there was no illegal uploading or personal information leakage in response to the Japanese government's call for organizational users to stop using Baidu's Japanese input software.  

The Japanese government issued the warning because the software uploads information to Baidu's servers, news portal sina.com reported Thursday, citing Japanese media.

Japan's National Information Security Center (NISC) and Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology advised 140 institutions including government departments, universities, and research centers not to use the input software developed by Chinese Internet company Baidu Inc, sina.com reported, citing Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.

Japan's Foreign Ministry and about 12 universities have installed Baidu's Japanese input software, the report said.

The data from Baidu's branch in Japan showed that in Japan, 2 million users were using Baidu's Japanese input software, according to the report.

Baidu's Japanese input software adopted advanced cloud technology, which makes the input software different from regular software and it uploads "some" information that users put in to the server in encryption, the company said in a statement sent to the Global Times via e-mail Thursday, but did not reveal which part of information is uploaded.

Baidu said its input software obeys Japan's laws as well as Internet industry conventions, according to its e-mailed statement.

It is common for input software to keep the information typed in by the users, because the information is essential for the software to build and upgrade its vocabulary based on users' habits, Dong Xu, a senior analyst with Internet consultancy Analysys International, told the Global Times Thursday.

Baidu claimed that the content uploaded to its server does not contain any personal and private information and the only aim of uploading is to improve users' experience.

Baidu also said that the uploaded information and servers are kept and managed in Japan so there is no illegal uploading behavior or information leakage risk.

The personal and private information refers to information about a person that can reveal his or her identity, such as name, gender, and cellphone number, Zhao Zhanling, an IT legal expert, told the Global Times Thursday.

As for other information that users typed in through the input software, there should be an explanation in the installment agreement which users have to agree with before they install the software, Zhao said.

Software developers have the responsibility to inform the users of the information security issues in the agreement, according to Zhao.

The installment agreement of Baidu's input software said the information and behaviors of users may be recorded and used "normally" by Baidu but the company will not provide users' personal information to third parties.

The agreement also said that because Baidu's input software is a free service, Baidu will not be responsible for users' losses. Baidu also reserves the rights to amend the agreement at any time.

Baidu said it is in negotiation with the Japanese government over the input software issue and is striving to reach an understanding.

The NISC also suggested not using Google input software and Microsoft input software, but the two companies could not be reached for comment by press time.

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