Geum Yi

Korean government increases warrants for cyber surveillance

October 5, 2015
By Heewon Kim  Seoul International School  10th grade

By Heewon Kim
Seoul International School
10th grade

In a transparency report released on Jan. 23, Daum Kakao Corporation revealed that the amount of warrants issued by the court for access to user data has more than quadrupled.

The amount of attention on the topic of cyber surveillance increased last year, when multiple news outlets had reported that the corporation had been cooperating with the Korean government’s orders. 

“Citizens are noticing the increased amount of cyber surveillance, and the government will need to find a set of clear standards or guidelines to manage the surveillance process,” said Judy Moon, an avid user of KakaoTalk.

Daum Kakao’s transparency report stated that the amount of search and seizure warrants increased from 2,174 in 2012 to 8,636 in 2014.

Daum Kakao wasn’t the only one affected. The increase in warrants has also affected Naver. Search and seizure warrants for user information increased 6.3 times from 1,487 in 2012 to 9,342 in 2014 for Naver, according to the report they released on Jan. 22.

“The increasing amount of warrants means that the government is trying to step up their game in cyber surveillance, and citizens definitely haven’t had a positive reaction to this,” said Jeesun Shin, an interior designer who uses KakaoTalk as an essential communication tool for work.

Some citizens who used KakaoTalk decided to leave the app and join Telegram, another messenger app. As of Oct. 21, 2014, Telegram had over 2.6 million users in Korea.

KakaoTalk users at Seoul International School also have something to say about this issue also. After conducting a survey of 9th grade students at Seoul International School, 63.6 percent wanted their privacy protected, or thought that the cyber surveillance situation was a problem.

“In order to prevent ourselves from making the same mistake, we will make privacy our top priority when there is discord between privacy and law,” said Lee Sirgoo, co-CEO of Daum Kakao, in an article by Yonhap News.

As a result of the citizens’ concern for their privacy, Daum Kakao has added privacy features such as a Secret Chat mode, end-to-end encryption, and the company has also published a transparency report composed of five sections. The five sections are Transparency, Recent News and Trends, Philosophy, and Our Privacy Protection Efforts.

A committee called the Privacy Policy Advisory Committee has also been implemented to help the company respond to crucial privacy issues.


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