Posted : 2012-03-29 16:05
Updated : 2012-03-29 16:05

Will Google ‘Koreanize‘ privacy policy?

Software developers chat at the Google IO Developers Conference in San Francisco in this May, 2011 file photo. / AP-Yonhap

By Kim Yoo-chul

U.S. Internet giant Google is in talks with telecommunications regulators here over the possibilities of tweaking its privacy policy for Korean users to abide with local laws, several industry sources said.

It remains to be seen how willing Google is to change its policy for Koreans, particularly as it has been serious about avoiding country-specific rules and implementing the same conditions to customers across the world.

Under Google’s new privacy policy introduced in January, private data collected by one Google service can be shared with other platforms, including Gmail, YouTube and Blogger.

However, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) has recommended Google revise its policy, claiming it infringes on the legal rights of Koreans who have had more control over how their data is collected and used.

According to officials at Google Korea, it is considering the recommendations seriously, KCC officials told The Korea Times.

KCC officials confirmed talks with Google although declined to comment on the specific adjustments they demanded.

Google’s talks with Korean officials come at a time when regulators in France also sent a list of questions to Google over its new privacy policy and their implications on users.

Despite facing criticism from multiple governments, especially in Europe, where the European Union is preparing to introduce stronger data protection laws, Google has been defending its new privacy policy.

The relationship between Google and KCC has been uneasy. After being kicked in the teeth by bloggers over its controversial decision to resume U.S. beef imports, the Lee Myung-bak government took steps to limit online anonymity in recent years by requiring users to make verifiable real-name registrations on major domestic websites.

Google sidestepped the rules by retiring its Korean language site rather than forcing users to provide sensitive information, earning applause from civil liberty advocates here. This time around, however, the ``big brother’’ joke seems to be on Google.

``I am quite confident that Google will reach a compromise with the KCC at some point. Authorities here are still concerned that cyber criminals could use Google’s services as a getaway vehicle after data breaches,’’ said Kim Myeong-joo, a computer security expert at Seoul Women’s University.

Korea is one of the world’s most wired countries, with 95 percent of households having an Internet connection.

``Korean law requires third-party clarification in the collection and movement of data, but Google doesn’t abide with this,’’ said Soon Chun Hyang University professor Yeom Heung-yeol.

``Data handlers here are also required to completely destroy personal information. Data for users under the age of 14 can only be handled after consent from parents or guardians but Google doesn’t cover this part either.’’
  • 1. 'Reply 1988' star rejects underwear ad offer
  • 2. `Indonesia factor' bars KF-X tech transfer
  • 3. Playful Psy hilarious on V online show
  • 4. Choi lures Japanese actor to 'Tiger'
  • 5. New policy on multiracial families to focus on openness
  • 6. Foreign scribe takes swipe at Park's mask comment
  • 7. Actor Jung Chan divorces
  • 8. Police seeking to shut down porn site Soranet
  • 9. Female F-16 pilot dreams big
  • 10. Science journal retracts 'plagiarism' paper co-authored by Korean prodigy