[NY Times] S. Korea’s invasion of privacy: opinion

April 3, 2015





SEOUL, South Korea — South Koreans have had to deal with a series of affronts to their privacy recently, but one blow stings more than the rest: The country’s three main telecommunication companies — KT, SK Telecom and LG Uplus — have been funneling subscriber information to law enforcement agencies whenever a request is made, without demanding a warrant or informing affected customers.

They gave away names, addresses, resident registration numbers and other customer information pertaining to more than six million phone numbers in the first half of 2014 alone. All of that data now sits with law enforcement authorities, with no prospect of disposal.

The collusion between telecom firms and the state is just another item in a long list of invasions of privacy by the government since President Park Geun-hye became a contender for high office more than four years ago. Some commentators warned that Ms. Park’s election might stoke authoritarianism because of her appeal among conservatives who honor her late father, the anti-Communist dictator Park Chung-hee, but no one predicted the republic of surveillance that has taken shape under her watchful eyes.