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Google supplements privacy policy for Korean users

But search giant denies any revision in data sharing across services


Google has agreed to supplement its controversial privacy policy to better communicate with Korean users, the nation’s Internet regulator said Thursday.

According to the Korea Communications Commission, the California-based search giant will provide Koreans more detailed explanations about its recent combination of user data across some 60 services.

“It’s meaningful that Google has agreed to offer more explanations for Korean users to better understand its recent changes to the privacy policy,” said Park Jae-moon, director general of network policy at KCC.

“The decision sets a good precedent, in which a global company, through cooperation with an individual government, makes efforts to guarantee users’ rights and to respect the country’s law.”

Considering the huge influence of Google, which has more than 80 percent of the global search market, Park added that the KCC will continue discussions with experts on the “Right to be forgotten.”

Since March 1, Google has simplified its privacy policy, consolidating 60 guidelines into one that applies to all of its services, including the flagship search engine, Gmail and YouTube.

The new rules, which are also so Google can use data more effectively for targeted advertising, has prompted privacy concerns around the world, especially in Korea, one of the world’s most wired countries.

On Feb. 28, Korean regulators requested that Google respond to their privacy concerns over its planned policy updates that could breach the Seoul government’s directive on data protection.

In response, Google said it will offer local users more detailed information, including data that will be collected and how it will use it, through its Korean websites.

The company also said it will update existing notification guidelines to include requirements under Korea’s data protection laws such as how long it will store data and how it will dispose of it.

The KCC said the renewed notification policy will be implemented from as early as April 15.

Google, however, made it clear that Thursday’s announcement does not indicate that it implements different privacy rules in Korea, saying it still maintains a single policy in all countries where it operates.

“We place great importance on respecting the law in all countries where we operate, so we’ve worked closely with Korean regulators in recent weeks to answer their questions and address their concerns,” said Lois Kim, a spokesperson for Google Korea.

“As a result, we have agreed to provide additional information ― as a supplement to our single global policy ― to help our Korean users better understand our approach to privacy, as well as the tools they can use.”

Google has defended its simplified policy of sharing user data as “seamless and easy,” saying people still have choice and control over their private data.

They explained that users can use products without signing into a Google account or can create several accounts for each service.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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