Homeplus pays a price for selling personal data

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Homeplus pays a price for selling personal data

The Fair Trade Commission on Monday fined discount hypermarket chain Homeplus 435 million won ($405,065) for collecting and selling the personal information of its customers to insurance companies.

The state-controlled antitrust watchdog said the nation’s second-largest retailer violated the Fair Labeling and Advertising Act .

The FTC said that when Homeplus advertised drawing events, it failed to clearly notify participants that their personal information would be provided to insurance companies for use in marketing.

For instance, to mark Korea’s participation in the FIFA World Cup last May and June, the retailer distributed coupons for a drawing to give away a Hyundai Genesis sedan. Participants were required to provide their names, birth dates, gender, telephone numbers, mobile numbers, number of children and signatures.

They also were asked to check two boxes permitting their information to be used by insurance companies, but the FTC said the fine print was too difficult to read.

“To participate in a drawing, the matter of providing personal information to insurance companies is the most important condition,” said Oh Hang-lok, director of the FTC’s Consumer Safety and Information Division. “But Homeplus did not explicitly inform consumers of the fact that it would provide the information to insurance companies.”

The FTC’s fine came after the prosecution indicted six former and current Homeplus executives in February for violating the Personal Information Protection Act.

According to the prosecution, executives received 14.8 billion won from selling information for about 7 million people to seven insurance companies. In addition, they sold information on about 2.9 million registered members of Homeplus for a total of 8.3 billion won.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [kim.heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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