Lotte Mart allegedly sold private data from millions of customers

October 17, 2014
Rep. Chun Soon-ok of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD)

Rep. Chun Soon-ok of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD)

By Jun Ji-hye

Supermarket chain Lotte Mart sold the private data of its customers to insurance companies and received 2.3 billion won ($2.6 million) in return, claimed Rep. Chun Soon-ok of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), Friday.

According to details submitted by Lotte Mart to the National Assembly audit, the discount chain collected personal data for about 2.5 million customers who signed up for free giveaway events at its stores and corporate website from June 2009 to February this year. It then sold this information to insurance companies including LINA Korea and Shinhan Life Insurance.

Mirae Asset Life Insurance also admitted it has utilized personal data from an average 1.5 million people annually, provided to them by Lotte Mart over the past five years, Chun said.

In return for provision of the information, the insurance companies paid money to the chain under the guise of supporting its advertisement.

These accusations come at a time when supermarket chains Homeplus and E-Mart have been embroiled in similar controversy.

These chains attracted consumers to participate in the events by offering expensive gifts such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz luxury cars as prizes.

“Such events began at E-Mart in 2008. The true reason for holding them was to collect the customers’ personal information and sell it on, but customers were not aware of that,” said the lawmaker. “None of the supermarkets or the insurance companies let the public know their data was being exchanged.”

Chun added that she is set to propose a revision to the Privacy Protection Act to restrict the exchange of personal data.

The lawmaker is the younger sister of Chun Tae-il, the iconic labor activist who set himself on fire and died at age 22 while protesting against inhumane working conditions at small clothing factories in Seoul in the 1970s.