Protecting our privacy

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Protecting our privacy


Criticism regarding Google’s collection of location data of Android users continues to grown. The IT giant, whose quarterly revenue exceeds 30 trillion won ($27.7 billion) has been using customer’s personal information without consent.

The problem is that as information technology advances, private information infringement will likely occur more often. The key to preventing further infringement lies not only in Google but also the government authorities. Authorities should strictly punish the company and revise related laws.

Citizens Coalition for Economic Justice and other civil groups filed an information disclosure suit against Google and Google Korea in 2014 over whether Google provided the personal information it had collected to a third party.

Google Korea refused the information disclosure, arguing that Google Korea is only an operational organization and the suit should be against the U.S. headquarters.

Since the headquarters is not located in Korea, it does not have the duty to disclose information, it claimed.

In the latest crisis, Google continues to be shamelessly brazen. When it was revealed to have used location information without consent, Google only acknowledged the facts without apologizing. It made an excuse that the information was not stored and was deleted. Nowadays, consumers’ confidence in companies is affected by these kinds of incidents. While the controversy continues, Google Korea has remained silent for more than two days.

There is little regulation to punish the IT company for using personal information such as location.

According to the location information protection law, collecting location information without the consent of the user is subject to imprisonment up to three years or a fine up to 30 million won.

When Google Korea collected personal information without consent when creating the Street View service in 2014, the Korea Communications Commission fined the company 210 million won.

Global IT companies make more than 100 trillion won a year, so a fine of that size is negligible.

The Korea Communications Commission called in Google Korea employees and inquired about the case on Nov. 23. As the KCC handles the case, situations in the United States, Japan and EU will be studied, and it will seek cooperation if necessary.

The government should take a step further and consider a stronger regulation of imposing fine proportional to the revenue, similar to the EU GDPR that will take effect next spring.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 24, Page 33

*The author is an industrial news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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