Civic groups accuse police of misusing Kakao data

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Civic groups accuse police of misusing Kakao data

The Catholic Human Rights Committee and other civil activist groups yesterday criticized the police for surveillance of some 3,000 people through confiscation of information from the KakaoTalk account of a deputy head of the Labor Party.

On June 10, deputy head of the left-wing Labor Party Jeong Jin-u was arrested for leading an unauthorized rally near the prime minister’s residence in Jongno District in central Seoul to demand the truth behind the April Sewol ferry disaster.

The groups said the Jongno District police investigated Jeong and misused information it received from the nation’s largest mobile messenger app, KakaoTalk. They made the accusation in a press conference held at the Franciscan Education Center in central Seoul yesterday.

During the police investigation, Jeong exercised the right to remain silent and refused to submit his cellphone. He was eventually charged with holding an unauthorized rally and was eventually released on bail in July. On June 18, the police obtained a search and seizure warrant to confiscate KakaoTalk messages Jeong exchanged with acquaintances from May 1 to June 10.

Since Kakao only saves up to a week’s worth of messages on its servers, the police were only able to obtain messages exchanged on the day of the rally. The civil groups said that the police misused Jeong’s private and confidential information, including his credit card passwords as well as his messages with 3,000 acquaintances that were leaked to the public. The groups added, “This is no different from large-scale act of surveillance and inspection.”



BY KOH SEOK-SEUNG, SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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