TOKYO, Dec. 26 -- (Kyodo) _ (EDS: UPDATING WITH ADDITIONAL INFO)
The Japanese government alerted all its agencies on Thursday not to prepare confidential documents with Chinese Internet company Baidu's Japanese language input application.
"We acknowledge the risk," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference. "We will make efforts to secure information security at government agencies as it is an important issue for national crisis management."
The alert issued by the National Information Security Center came after reports that Baidu's IME -- or input method editor that allows computer users to enter characters and symbols -- is sending all keystrokes information and computer identifications of users to Baidu servers in Japan without their consent.
The Baidu IME is a free application available on the Internet and often comes in a package when downloading applications offered by other Chinese companies.
The Foreign Ministry confirmed that Baidu IME was installed in five of its official personal computers, while the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology found the application in two PCs at research institutions under its jurisdiction.
A Foreign Ministry official said the five PCs were not used for handling confidential documents and the application in question had already been uninstalled.
Baidu's "Simeji" input system for smartphones has also been found to be sending user information, according to NetAgent Co., a Tokyo-based information security company.
Simeji has been downloaded some 7 million times.
Harumichi Yuasa, professor at the Institute of Information Security, said, "Highly private information such as user names may be collected," adding that "Baidu should explain its policy (on privacy) to users in an adequate manner."