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South Korea slaps Facebook, Netflix with heavy fine of $5.7 million for privacy violations

Photo by: Sara Kurfeß/Unsplash

Facebook and Netflix were hit with a heavy fine in South Korea. The country’s regulator on personal information protection said that the American tech companies violated some privacy rules, so they were penalized and must pay a combined sum of $5.7 million or ₩6.7 billion.

Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) actually handed down the penalty against three firms - Facebook, Netflix, and Google. They were also ordered to rectify the problems after the probe on the case.

It was mentioned that Facebook received the heaviest penalty in terms of the amount. Mark Zuckerberg’s company was accused of violating the country’s personal information protection act by the commission.

They said that the company created and stored facial recognition templates of around 200,000 users in S. Korea without consent. The country’s data protection agency stated that the storage of templates occurred between April 2018 and September 2019.

This is Facebook’s second time to be penalized by the commission, and it is the second-largest fine that it has imposed as well. It ordered the social media giant to pay ₩6.7 billion in November 2020 for supposedly providing personal details to other parties without any consent from the users.

It was further alleged that FB has been collecting residential registration numbers of Korean users in an illegal way and not informing people about the changes in its personal information management policy.

As for Netflix, it received a penalty of over ₩220 million in fines for collecting personal data of about five million people without their consent even before they complete the registration process for the streaming service. The American over-the-top content platform and production company headquartered in Los Gatos, California, was also held responsible for failing to disclose information on its personal data transfer outside of S. Korea.

The commission did not fine Google, but it issued a recommendation for it to improve its handling of personal information. The PIPC pointed out that the tech firm’s legal notice on the collection of personal information should be made clear as it is vague at this time. The penalties are the initial result of the investigation that was carried out by the PIPC.

Meanwhile, Korea Jongang Daily reported that Facebook denied the allegations that it failed to secure approval for deploying the information. The company said it obtained consent from users for the utilization of facial recognition on their services. On the other hand, Netflix said it has voluntarily fixed the problematic points mentioned by the PIPC.

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