S. Korea fines Google, Meta $71 mn for privacy violations

2022.09.15 09:37:51 | 2022.09.15 09:38:31

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South Korea’s privacy authority has slapped Google and Meta Platforms, formerly Facebook, with a combined 100 billion won ($71.9 million) fine for violating the country’s privacy law that bans the collection of users’ online activity information without consent.

The Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) said Wednesday that it fined Google 69.2 billion won and Meta 30.8 billion won for allegedly failing to clearly inform their Korean users and gain their prior consent when collecting their behavioral information to use them for customized advertisements, according to the commission.

The latest measure is the first punishment related to online customized advertisement platforms’ behavioral information collection and usage in Korea, and the largest-ever fine levied for violations of Personal Information Protection Act by Korean antitrust authorities.

The PIPC noted that Google offers its users in Europe step-by-step options to choose whether to allow the collection of their behavioral information but its Korean users are given only a default option to agree on it upon signing up.

The PIPC has looked into major online customized advertisement platforms’ behavioral information collection and usage since February last year.

Google and Meta denied their wrongdoings in regards to Korea’s Personal Information Protection Act, saying that they have collected Korean users’ behavioral information with their prior consent under the privacy protection law.

The commission, however, disagrees with them, saying that the two companies did not receive “active indication of consent” of information subject and lawful consent requirement expected in the country’s Personal Information Protection Act.

Google expressed regret over the commission’s decision and said it plans to “review the commission’s findings.” Meta also said it is open to all options to refute the latest decision by the commission.

By Lee Jae-cheol and Lee Eun-joo

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