South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) has slapped Facebook with a 6.7 billion won (around US$6.1 million) fine for sharing user information without consent. The Korea Communications Commission kickstarted the investigation in 2018 before ultimately handing it off to the PIPC a few months ago. According to Yonhap News, the PIPC determined that the social network shared the personal information of 3.3 million South Korean users (out of a total of 18 million) to other companies without consent from May 2012 to June 2018.
The watchdog said Facebook shared people’s names, addresses, dates of birth, work experience, hometowns and relationship statuses with other companies when they logged in. Further, it said Facebook could have shared that information with up to 10,000 other companies. That said, it couldn’t say how much information was shared exactly, because Facebook apparently didn’t provide relevant documentation. PIPC also accused the social network of submitting incomplete or false documents. Facebook denied the accusation, telling Yonhap News in a statement that it “cooperated with the investigation in its entirety.”
This is the first time the PIPC has fined the social network, but it’s not the first time Facebook has been in trouble in the country. Back in 2018, the Korea Communications Commission fined the company 396 million won (approximately $396,706) for slowing users' connections in 2016 and 2017. Facebook won the legal battle against the commission, though, and the fine was ultimately rescinded. The Seoul Administrative Court ruled back then that the fine was unlawful, as the company didn’t intend to slow down its services in the country.