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May 26, 2017

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YouBike user info may have been leaked, says Taipei City councilor

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Local media yesterday reported that Taipei City Councilwoman Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) questioned user's information safety of the popular YouBike system on July 29, stating that YouBike's user agreement leaves a loophole that could lead to personal information of over 2 million YouBike members being leaked.

In order to access the YouBike system throughout the nation, citizens are required to sync their EasyCards to a YouBike kiosk and become an official member. The membership application process instructs people to provide the system with personal information including name, cell phone number, e-mails and the serial number of their EasyCard.

Reportedly, one of the clauses under the YouBike's user agreement enables the popular public vehicle's supplying and maintenance company Giant Bicycles to use the information for the company's "additional operating businesses in regards to public services," and "additional operating businesses and registered business categories or businesses prescribed by articles of associated business."

During her questioning session at the Taipei City Council on July 29, Hsu raised her concern over users' privacy. The business items of Giant Bicycles covers too wide a range Hsu said, which prompted her to fear that the private information YouBike's members could be easily misused.

Hsu went on to reveal that Giant Bicycles has violated a contractual agreement with the Taipei City Government's Department of Transportation. Reportedly, one of the articles in the company's contract with the department dictates that no third party can acquire the personal information of YouBike members.

However, Hsu said that she has discovered that Giant Bicycles has outsourced the log-in software, information transfer and security of the membership information to a micro-programming company, with information of over 2 million members given to them so as to build an applicable program.

Allegedly, the front-page on the site of the micro-programming company in question displays a slogan which stated that the company is operational 27-7, serving as a background company that tracks the information flow of all their members.

Department of Transportation Responds to Concerns

Liu Chia-you (劉嘉祐), a division chief at the Taipei department of transportation responded to Hsu's concerns on behalf of the department, stating that Giant Bicycles had already formed an operations team with other companies, including the micro-programming company and the EasyCard Corporation, when the department contracted the program to Giant Bicycles, which means no violation has taken place.

Liu promised that the YouBike user agreement will be amended, and the councilwoman's concerns will be discussed in further meetings to improve their service. All modifications to the YouBike service will be conducted within a month, Liu said.

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