List like Ashley Madison’s surfaces in KoreaThe Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Monday acquired a list of over 66,000 personal profiles of Korean men who patronized prostitutes or inquired about their services online.
The police are using the list, compiled by sex industry brokers, to investigate whether the men violated the law by paying for sex. The profiles vary in length, but some include the men’s phone numbers, occupations, license plate numbers, the amounts they paid for sex and even how long the sex service lasted.
The police said the Excel file compiled by the brokers had profiles of 66,385 people, some of whom contacted sex brokers for information but did not follow through.
Korea’s version of the Ashley Madison scandal is sparking concerns of how the police will use the information - and whether it will be leaked elsewhere.
“We are looking into a possibility that this Excel file with so much sensitive information could be leaked in cyberspace and shared by Internet users,” said an investigator at the police cybercrime team, who asked for anonymity.
One man on the list contacted by the JoongAng Ilbo Tuesday in a brief phone interview denied he had bought sex.
“I have never paid for sex and I am not even an owner of the car [listed in his profile],” he said
The profile include dates on which the men contacted brokers, dates of paid assignations and even detailed physical appearances of the customers. The profile of one alleged customer reads, “He looks like a cop.”
The file was first reported to the press by Kim Ung, who heads consulting firm Ryan & Folks, who said he received it from a source.
Kim said ten brokers collected the information over five years in eight notebooks. Kim put the information into an Excel file.
The profiles are thought to have been compiled after Google searches.
After the brokers were contacted by potential customers on online chat rooms, they “googled” their phone numbers to find as much personal information as possible, including occupations.
Of the 66,385 people on the list, some were doctors, professors, accountants and employees at state-run institutions and major companies. Profiles of journalists and police had notes warning brokers not to contact them because they were risky customers. The list is divided into three categories: New, Existing and Black. Black members refer to those who caused some kind of trouble, including refusing to pay for sex.
Police are concerned that if the list is leaked online, it could cause serious breaches of personal privacy and human rights, especially for the men who didn’t follow through on the sex services.
“A person could easily be branded as a sex worker customer just because his phone number was on the list,” said Chung Yong-kyo, a professor of social studies at Yeungnam University.
BY CHAE SEUNG-KI, KANG JIN-KYU [email@example.com]
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