Broad new law deals with problems of internet age

South Korea

To cope with some of the problems associated with the rapid development of information technology, the Korean government has enacted a broad piece of legislation to regulate domain names, protect privacy, discourage cybercrime and control spam. When drafting the Information Network and Privacy Protection Act, the government drew heavily from other countries' legislative frameworks. The new act's main features are as follows.

Firstly, the new law establishes a policy for regulating domain names and coping with related disputes. The Domain Name Dispute Mediation Committee will begin operating early this year and will settle disputes regarding Korean country-code top-level domain names.

Secondly, the act increases internet service providers' (ISPs') responsibility for protecting individuals' privacy. Relevant provisions state:

  • If an ISP hires a third party to collect, manage and control internet users' personal information, it must notify users in advance. If the third party infringes the users' privacy rights, then the ISP will be liable for damages as well. The service agreement must state the ISP's liability for damages.

  • Where a user demands to inspect or correct his/her personal information, then the ISP must take the necessary measures to facilitate the request.

  • When collecting personal information from children age 14 or younger, the ISP must obtain approval from their legal guardians, and must grant the guardians the right to inspect or correct their child's information.

  • Where an ISP enters into an international agreement with a foreign entity for the transfer of personal data, it must also comply with that foreign entity's national data protection laws.

The newly established Personal Information Disputes Resolution Committee shall resolve disputes in relation to the protection of personal information.

Finally, the act includes provisions to punish cybercrime (eg, hacking, transmitting computer viruses, general damage to networks) and the sending of unsolicited commercial email without the recipients' prior consent.

Kyung-Han Sohn, Aram International Law Offices, Seoul

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