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Your personal data, sold in China for a cent

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Published : 2014-03-19 12:54
Updated : 2014-03-19 12:54

(Result obtained by typing in reporter's younger brother's registration number)
First page of 'South Korean identity search' page
A Chinese website showed that Koreans’ personal information has been sold through a Chinese website at 1 cent per identity.

A Facebook user came forward with a set of captured pictures of a Chinese website, saying, “Our information has been sold at 1 cent (6 won).”

The pictures showed lists of South Korean names and resident registration numbers being shared among Internet users and a section of a search engine that specifically handles South Koreans’ personal data.

The Facebook post was uploaded on March 13, gaining thousands of likes and more than 100 shares. Alarmed Internet users replied to the post, requesting the address of the Web search engine so that they could check whether their own personal data had been included in the database.

The service is available in a section of search site Bian Min Cha Xun Wang, which means easy search engine for the people.

The “South Korean Identity Search” section allows people to conduct background checks on any South Korean in the database. By simply inputting the 13-digit resident registration number, anyone can check on any South Korean’s personal data as long as the registration number is valid. However, only people outside South Korea can access the personal information on there, as South Korea’s cyber police unit has blocked the site, identifying it as having harmful contents.

“Our website offers South Korean personal information, such as resident registration numbers, names, and validity of registration numbers, and you can also download them by simply typing in the numbers,” the first page of “South Korean identity search,” said, promoting their fast and user-friendly service.

However, the website indicated that it was made to check the validity of registration numbers and should not be used for other purposes. “Do not leak the secret,” the website added, perhaps referring to problems that may arise when the identity market becomes widely known.
(Captured from Baidu.com)
Q&A section of Baidu about South Korean ID card
South Korean personal information is extremely easy to find on the Chinese website Baidu -- China’s equivalent of Google -- as a vast amount of data is circulating on the Web. The search term “South Korean registration number” brings up more than 20 pages of related information. Even automated search allows people to look for further information of South Korean personal data. FAQs about South Korean data are all over the Chinese Internet, and some sites even have exact copies of scanned photo-ID cards.

There have been mounting concerns over personal data leaks from major firms, as there is possibility that the leaked information could be and allegedly have been misused. On top of massive data leaks from KB Kookmin Card Co,. NH Nonghyup Card Co., Lotte Card Co. and KT Olleh, CJ Korea Express, one of South Korea’s largest parcel delivery service companies, was found to have failed to protect its customers’ personal information on March 17.

South Korean Internet users who discovered the Chinese websites expressed their anger and despair.

“The entire registry system has to change,” said one user.

Another bitterly suggested a silver lining:

“Our personal information was about $1 few years ago, but now they are 1 cent. So if even more information is out there, no one will leak it.”

By Ha Ji-won, intern reporter (jiwonha@heraldcorp.com)

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