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South Korean privacy watchdog apologises for violating privacy while mediating privacy lawsuit

South Korea’s privacy watchdog leaked personal information relating to participants in a case that sought to probe Facebook’s leak of personal information.

“Recently, while handling a Facebook collective dispute mediation case, an accident occurred in which the personal information in the dispute mediation was leaked to other applicants. We deeply apologize to the victims and the public for the fact that such a leak occurred,” wrote Yoon Jong-in of the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) on Monday, as machine-translated from Korean.

The PIPC was arbitrating a case against Facebook for leaking personal data of 181 users when the watchdog sent out the information of the entire group to 19 people. In late October, the PIPC had ordered Facebook to pay ₩300,000 ($254) to each of the 181 petitioners for passing their personal information to over 10,000 third-party app developers without consent.

Yoon said the PIPC was investigating his organization’s information leaks, as he pledged support and dispute resolution services for petitioners impacted by the accident.

The PIPC has dealt with Facebook leaks in the past, without itself leaking. In November 2020, the watchdog fined The Social Network™ ₩6.7 billion ($5.6M) for leaking 3.3 million Korean users’ data – including lists of their Facebook friends – without their consent over a six year time period.

In August 2021, Facebook was ordered to pay ₩6.46 billion ($5.5M) for creating and storing facial recognition templates for 200,000 local users between April 2018 and September 2019 without proper consent. ®