According to Yonhap news, South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) has fined Facebook $6 million (or ₩6.7 billion Korean Won) for sharing user data without consent. The investigation was kick-started by the Korea Communications Commission back in 2018 before later being handed over to the PIPC. South Korea’s PIP commission believes the social media giant has passed the user information of over 3.3. million South Koreans to other companies from May 2012 to June 2018.
The commission claims Facebook shared data such as the user’s name, date of birth, hometowns, addresses, relationship statuses, and work experience with other companies. The South Korean commission believes that the social media giant could have shared the user data with as many as 10,000 different companies. The commission could not find the exact amount of information that was shared since Facebook failed to provide relevant documents backing the claims. The PIPC also accused the leading social media network of being unsupportive in the investigation by submitting false or incomplete documents, which Facebook has denied these accusations.
South Koreas’ PIPC has claimed that when Facebook users logged into other online services using their Facebook account, the personal data of their Facebook friends was shared. The commission said that a user agreed to share their details with a particular online service whenever they logged in with their Facebook accounts. However, the user’s friends did not. It is then believed that the third-party apps or websites that received the data provided by Facebook created customized advertisements targeting each user on their social media accounts. The commission said it will file a legal criminal complaint against Facebook Ireland Ltd.- in charge of Facebook operations in South Korea between May 2012 and June 2018.
If convicted, Facebook Ireland Ltd. Director, responsible for user privacy, could face up to a five-year prison sentence or a fine of $46 thousand (or ₩50 million) for violating South Korea’s Communication Commission. On Wednesday, Facebook was imposed with an additional $60 thousand (or ₩66 million) for furnishing false or incomplete documentation.
This is the PIPCs biggest crackdown on a social media giant, but it is not the first or last time Facebook has been in deep water. In 2018, the Korean Communications Commission levied Facebook with a $364 thousand (or ₩396 million) fine for slowing down user’s connections in 2016 and 2017. However, at that time Facebook won the legal battle against the commission and it revoked the fine.
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