South Korea slaps Google and Meta with $72 million fine for violating the country’s privacy laws

Google was fined $50 million, whereas Meta was fined $22 million. Both the companies have also been instructed to redraw how their privacy options function in South Korea.

South Korea’s PIPC or the Personal Information Protection Commission, a branch of the government that is charged with protecting the personal information and privacy laws in the country, imposed a number of fines and penalties on Google and Meta over the violations of the country’s privacy laws.

South Korea slaps Google and Meta with $72 million fine for violating the country’s privacy laws

The fines total KRW 100 billion or roughly $72 million. Google has been dealt the bigger hit, with a fine of KRW 69.2 billion or around $50 million, whereas Meta was fined KRW 30.8 billion or roughly $22 million or so. The two companies were accused of not acquiring legitimate consent before collecting user information through third-party websites and apps.

The South Korean PIPC found that Google did not inform users that it will collect and use a user’s behavioural data. Google was also chastised for setting the default choice to “agree” while making it difficult for users to opt-out of the collection of data, by hiding the other options behind a “More options” button. The PIPC observed that this was in contrast to what European users see.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, on the other hand, started asking South Korean users to accept its updated privacy policy by August 8 or they would lose access to their Facebook and Instagram accounts on August 9. This was the action that led the South Korean PIPC to closely look at Meta’s operations in the country.

Meta and Google, meanwhile have stated that they will be taking the necessary steps to challenge the PIPC’s ruling. In a statement issued to certain media outlets, Meta said, “While we respect the PIPC’s decision, we are confident that we work with our clients in a legally compliant way that meets the processes required by local regulations. As such, we do not agree with the commission’s decision and will be open to all options, including seeking a ruling from the court.”

A spokesperson from Google, told Reuters, that they disagree with the Korean PIPC’s findings, and will be reviewing the written decision, once they get a copy of it. The spokesperson also added, “We’ve always demonstrated our commitment to making ongoing updates that give users control and transparency while providing the most helpful products possible. We remain committed to engaging with the PIPC to protect the privacy of South Korean users.”

Apart from paying the fine, Google and Meta have also been ordered to rework their consent dialogues and formulate them in a way that complies with South Korea’s privacy laws.

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