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Google left train station blueprints unprotected

The Japan News/ANN | Saturday, Apr 12, 2014

JAPAN - Following Google Japan Inc. employees' online leak of sensitive data on international airports, internal information such as the floor plans of JR Tokyo and Shin-Osaka stations was similarly found to have been made publicly accessible on the Internet due to overlooked privacy settings, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The transport ministry, which has been reviewing its counterterrorism measures ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, has begun an investigation into the matter.

In the case of JR Tokyo Station, floor plans for the first basement level of GranTokyo South Tower, which is next to the station, were publicly accessible on the Internet, according to sources. Operated by an affiliate of East Japan Railway Co., the building has 42 stories above ground and four floors underground. The floor plans for the building included such detailed information as the locations of special high-voltage power lines, which are intended for internal use only, and the disaster control centre, which acts as the heart of the building.

Also made accessible were the floor plans for the Gransta shopping mall, located on the first basement level of the area inside the ticket gates of Tokyo Station. The documents contained the locations of rooms used for wiring and machinery, as well as a room where each shop deposited its money, according to sources.

"It would be very unlikely [for us] to disclose [such information] to the public," said an employee of another affiliate of JR East in apparent surprise.

Information on an interrogation room in the Osaka prefectural police's railway police station, located in the MEDIO Shin-Osaka shopping area in JR Shin-Osaka Station, was also publicly accessible. The floor plans also contained the location of rest areas for Shinkansen bullet train drivers.

About 600 e-mails that contained information on the stations, shopping malls and other facilities had been accessible to anyone online due to the status of privacy settings for Google Groups that were set by Google Japan employees. The employees changed the privacy settings to "Public" when they shared information using the service in the process of updating Indoor Maps, an advanced version of Google Maps, according to the company.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry on Thursday began investigations into how sensitive information on Chubu Airport in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, and New Chitose Airport in Chitose, Hokkaido, was leaked, according to sources. The ministry believes the two airports may have violated the airport safety management code, which stipulates hijacking and counterterrorism measures.

In 2011, the transport ministry issued a warning for all airports nationwide to give maps and other information to Google and others only after deleting data on locations that could pose security problems if made public. Therefore, both airports are likely to have violated the warning, according to the ministry.

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