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Mobile messaging giant Line has announced that it’s introducing end-to-end encryption by default for all users, from July 1.

The Japanese tech company first launched the so-called “letter-sealing” privacy feature in October last year, but it hasn’t been activated by default for all users. In a statement today, the company said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to enhancing privacy and security for our users, we are pleased to announce that from July, Line is introducing ‘Letter Sealing (End-to-end Encryption)’ as a default feature.”

As part of this update, the company is now ditching a feature it rolled out back in 2014, called Hidden Chats, which allowed users to send “ephemeral,” or time-limited, messages. Line’s reason for removing this feature is the new default setting, but that doesn’t fully explain why the time-limited facet of the Hidden Chats feature would not still be popular.

The road to IPO

A subsidiary of South Korea’s biggest web operators, Naver Corp, Line rose to prominence in 2011 for a mobile messaging app that today claims more than 200 million monthly users in 200 countries, though most of those users exist across Japan and a handful of Asian countries. Line has also expanded into other services, such as mobile payments, taxis, and other standalone apps.

Line’s move to activate end-to-end encryption by default comes a few months after Facebook-owned WhatsApp did the same, but the timing of Line’s news is notable. Earlier this month, Line announced plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange and Tokyo Stock Exchange on July 14 and July 15, respectively. The initial public offering (IPO) is expected to raise around $1 billion, which could make it the biggest tech IPO of 2016.


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