Jul 7, 2015

Google Korea Faces New Lawsuit over Data-sharing Concerns: New Technology Company Challenges in Korea

According to a new article in the Korea Times, civic activists have just filed a complaint with the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) on July 6th asking for a temporary halt to Google Korea's business in South Korea due to alleged violations of Korea's Telecommunications Business Law.

Google Korea originally registered with the Korean government as a "value-added common carrier," meaning that the company only provides search services and internet advertisement services. However, the civil activists are now claiming that either Google or Google Korea has made false declarations about being a value-added common carrier, and are now pressuring Google Korea to disclose whether it has shared the personal information of its users with third parties.

Last year, four Korean civic groups (Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice, the Korea Progressive Network Center, Amnesty International's Korean Chapter, and Citizen Action) also filed a lawsuit against Google Korea alleging that Google Korea has passed the private information of its users to United States intelligence agencies.

When contacted for an explanation as to the nature of Google Korea's information-sharing relationship with Google, Google Korea responded that it "provides users' data to governments only in accordance with the law."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. To what extent does the Korean office of a US corporation need to comply with local Korean law? And, with many US tech companies running into legal troubles in South Korea (ie: Uber), what does this mean for Korea's tech market as a whole?

Be sure to check out the original article in the Korea Times here:
Google Faces Business Suspension in Korea

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Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.

Sean is ranked, for Korea, as one of only two non-Korean lawyers as a Top Attorney by AsiaLaw. Sean's profile may be found at: Sean C. Hayes