​State watchdog to investigate social media over legitimacy of personal information collecting

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2018-03-30 16:01 Updated : 2018-03-30 16:01
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[Aju News DB]

SEOUL --  Alarmed by a scandal involving Facebook, which is under fire for collecting personal information from Android smartphone users, South Korean regulators will launch an extensive probe into domestic and foreign social media firms.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC), a state watchdog, said in a statement on Friday that local social media services such as Naver BAND and Kakao Talk and foreign services like Facebook and Instagram would be inspected to see if they are obeying a law on the protection of personal information.

Facebook was accused of collecting contact names, telephone numbers, call logs and text messages inappropriately without consent.

However, the world's largest social media defended itself in a special webpage that such information collecting is common among social apps as a way to easily find people to connect. "We never sell this data, and this feature does not collect the content of your text messages or calls."

Like Facebook, social media services generally require prior consent from users on collecting personal information. Personalized data is normally used to provide a list of people to connect with or information about people nearby.

KCC said it would check the appropriateness of methods used in approaching and processing personal information. It will also see if companies are faithful to the terms described in their user-license agreements.

Because of complaints that Google's Android and Apple's iOS operating systems are more powerful and have easier access to personal information, compared to social media apps, the watchdog will find out if they are authorized to collect a minimum amount of personal information to maintain the operation of their features.