No excuse for Net violations

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No excuse for Net violations

Consumers Korea and a number of other major local consumer groups announced yesterday they are preparing a class action lawsuit against Daum.net for the company’s latest e-mail server error. They are urging other victims, whose e-mail accounts were exposed to strangers, to join the lawsuit.

During Daum’s e-mail server maintenance inspection on July 22, e-mails of some 550,000 customer accounts were mingled with others by system errors ? which meant that customers who opened up their inbox that afternoon ended up accessing some total stranger’s e-mail account and had their own inbox exposed to strangers.

Several hundred Daum users have already filed complaints to the company, saying some of their e-mails were deleted by strangers during the incident.

For one thing, it is quite shocking that such a big Internet portal like Daum, which has millions of users, conducted this job at midday, when millions of people access their e-mail. In addition, Daum did not bother to immediately notify its users of the incident and tried to minimize the fallout. It posted only a brief alert of “ongoing system errors” on its Web site.

Following this irresponsible crisis management, Daum finally apologized on July 24, when angry users threatened legal action. But the fury is unlikely to subside anytime soon. Meanwhile, the Korea Communications Commission is also investigating the matter.

It is no news that Korea’s Internet portals, Internet shopping malls, telecommunications and financial service companies have shockingly low awareness on how to manage and protect the personal information of customers. As a result, local consumers have long been bombarded with spam e-mails, text messages and unending unsolicited phone calls.

Given what the local companies have done so far, the consumers’ latest collective action to safeguard their personal information is not surprising at all.

Look what happened when local consumer groups threatened to file the nation’s first consumer class action on Hanarotelecom and three other companies for leaking customers’ personal information. Three companies among them pledged to revise the agreements for users when they sign up for their services.

But the latest development will only be the tip of the iceberg if the companies fail to sober up and correct themselves in the future. Consumers no longer have the patience to tolerate their old ways.
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