Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
On 8 February 1999, Korea enacted the Act on the Promotion and Protection of the Information Infrastructure (Reg No 5835) (the 1999 Act). Chapter 4 of the 1999 Act contains provisions on the protection of personal data over the networks (arts 16, 17 and 18), which closely follows the 1980 OECD Privacy Guidelines.
Before the enactment of this legislation, the Korean legal regime of data protection consisted of the following.
General rules to be applied to the private sector processing of the personal data do not exist. However, the 1999 Act is dealing with an increasingly important part of data compiling in the private sector. This law applies to the telecommunications business operators and others who provide data or facilitate the provision of data over telecommunications networks (the processor). Electronic commerce among other information and communication services is the area at which the provisions are aimed.
Article 19(3) of the 1999 Act also prohibits unsolicited spam mail.
The privacy provisions of the 1999 Act enter into force on 1 January 2000. Criminal and administrative penalties shall be imposed on those who breach the principles of data protection:
The 1999 Act does not establish a Data Commissioner. This reflects the drafters’ intention not to create a
new bureaucratic body. The efficacy of the online data protection provisions, therefore, depends on the data subject’s recognition of its rights and its willingness to exercise them. However, considering the lack of long tradition of the protection of personal data in Korea, it would be advisable to appoint a Data Commissioner to promote voluntary privacy appliance and to review the implementation of the principles of data protection.
Chan-Mo Chung, D Phil, Korea Information Society Development Institute, <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
(1) No person shall encroach upon or divulge communication secrecy held by telecommunications business operator.
(2) The one engaged or [who] has been engaged in telecommunication service shall not divulge others’ communication secrets obtained while in office.
(3) When related authorities ask for perusal or submission of documents regarding telecomm-unication service for investigation needs in writing, then telecommunication business operator or the one entrusted with partial treatment of telecomm-unication service under art 12 may accede to [this request].