The Korea Communications Commission said Thursday that it will soon begin restricting websites from requiring subscribers or users to register their resident identification numbers.
This measure follows a law revision that will be implemented beginning August 18, in an effort to make Korea a “clean Internet” society, which had been vulnerable to hacking and ID theft.
All online sites, including portals, e-commerce and shopping malls, will not be able to ask or demand that consumers type in their national numbers, which are equivalent to the U.S. Social Security numbers, beginning next month.
“We will strictly restrict this practice of gathering and using personal identification numbers online as a means to protect individual information,” a KCC official said.
Also, the Korean communications watchdog said that all existing ID numbers kept by websites or the e-industry will have to be completely erased from their databases within two years of the implementation of the revised law.
However, the KCC will give the online industry about six months to prepare for overhauling their systems to minimize market disorder.
Furthermore, the commission will try to come up with ways to provide alternate solutions to ID number registration such as boosting the use of certified numbers received via personal mobile phones or electronic authentication.
Over the years, domestic companies such as SK Communications, Auction, Nexon and Hyundai Capital have experienced security breaches, leaving hackers with a large amount of personal information.
Unlike the U.S. where users do not need to provide their social security numbers to use particular online services, people in Korea who wish to use or make purchases of products or services online have been required to type in their sensitive information, including their national ID numbers, which had often been distributed to third parties without the consent of individuals, according to media reports.
By Park Hyong-ki (firstname.lastname@example.org)