South Korea fines Facebook $6.1 mn for sharing users' info without consent

South Korea's information watchdog on Wednesday fined Facebook Inc. 6.7 billion won (US$6 million) for passing information of at least 3.3 million South Koreans to other companies in its first crackdown on the U.S. tech giant.

The Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) said Facebook violated the country's personal information law by providing personal information of at least 3.3 million of the country's total 18 million local users from May 2012 to June 2018 to other companies without their consent.

It marked the commission's first punishment against Facebook since it was launched in August this year, reports Yonhap news agency.

The commission said that when users logged into other company's services using their Facebook accounts, the personal information of their Facebook friends was also shared to such service providers without consent.

The personal information that was shared with other companies included users' names, their addresses, dates of birth, work experience, hometowns and relationship statuses.

The watchdog said the exact amount of the shared information is unclear as Facebook did not provide relevant documentation.

Considering the information could be provided to at most 10,000 other companies, the watchdog said a considerable amount of personal information could have been shared.

The commission said it will refer Facebook Ireland Ltd -- which was in charge of Facebook operations in South Korea from May 2012 to June 2018 -- to the prosecution for a criminal investigation.

Facebook Ireland's director in charge of user privacy could face up to five years in prison or a maximum of 50 million won in fines if convicted of violating South Korea's relevant personal information law.

It added that Facebook was uncooperative in its investigation as it submitted incomplete or false documents.

The commission also levied Facebook with a separate penalty of 66 million won for the false documentation.

Facebook expressed regret at the commission's move.

"We cooperated with the investigation in its entirety," Facebook said in a statement. "We have yet to closely review PIPC's measure."

In 2018, the Korea Communications Commission, South Korea's telecommunications regulator, started investigations into Facebook before handing it off to the commission.


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel