Global companies such as Google and Facebook will face tougher user data protection regulations in Korea with a new bill requiring them to appoint local representatives who will be in charge of personal information, industry sources said on Aug. 31.
On Aug. 30, the National Assembly passed an amendment to the Information and Communications Network Promotion and Information Protection Act. The bill is expected to prevent foreign companies from misusing personal information without consent.
Under the revised law, global companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon and even those without local offices are obligated to report information leakage cases to the Korean authorities through their personal information protection officers just as Korean companies do now.
The current law only has regulations on the overseas transfer regulations of users' personal information. When the personal information is relocated to a third country, it is possible to do so without obtaining a user's permission because there are no relevant grounds. But now companies have to obtain the consent of users, according to the amendment bill.
"Global behemoths like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon have been making a lot of money using personal information of our citizens but have taken little responsibility," Park Dae-chul, an opposition lawmaker who drafted the legislation said.
"Once foreign companies designate agents, it would solve the issue of 'reverse discrimination' against domestic companies and the level of personal information protection can be reinforced as the government will be able to strictly control them," Park added.
Global companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon are gathering and utilizing personal information of Korean citizens through various businesses and services in Korea. However, as they are not subject to domestic laws, it is difficult to determine how, where, when, why and how personal information is used. In addition, the collected personal information is transferred to a third country.