South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) decided to impose a total fine of KRW100bn (USD72m) on Google [GOOG:US] and Meta [META:US] for collecting personal information without users’ consent and using it to distribute personalized advertisements online, as reported by the Korea Herald on September 14. Google and Meta were fined KRW69.2bn (USD49.58m) and KRW30.8bn (USD22.07m), respectively. PIPC also ordered the two businesses to notify users ahead of time if they intend to acquire and utilize behavioral data from other platforms, so that users may quickly and clearly comprehend the situation and freely exercise their right to decide.
The KRW100bn penalty was South Korea’s first for the unlawful gathering and use of user information by customized-advertising platforms. According to PIPC, Google acquired and used users’ information on other platforms without their permission for at least six years, from 2016 to the present, while Meta obtained and used users’ information without their permission for approximately four years, from July 2018 to the present. Notably, Meta’s Facebook has been fined KRW6.7bn (USD4.8m) earlier in November 2020 for violating South Korea’s personal information protection legislation. According to PIPC, Facebook provided personal information of at least 3.3m of the country’s 18m local users to third-party service providers without their permission. Then, in August 2021, South Korea’s personal information protection agency ordered Facebook to pay KRW6.4bn (USD4.6m) for using facial recognition technology to obtain user information without user authorization between April 2018 and September 2019.