The Korea Herald


Does Kakao Talk infringe on rights?

By Korea Herald

Published : Oct. 28, 2011 - 20:12

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The National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea ruled that Kakao Talk, the county’s most popular messenger app for smartphones, to be in violation of the right to informational self-determination on Friday.

According to the state’s human rights watchdog, Kakao Talk violates the law on telecom network and information protection, and the group requested the Korea Communications Commission to investigate and take appropriate measures.

Yonsei University graduate student Lee Jung-min, who uses the app while commuting or in between classes to talk to her friends, was surprised to hear of the decision.

“Everything is done through Kakao Talk,” said 26-year-old Lee, who is one of the 20 million users of the app.

“My trust in the app is shaken,” Jang Yun-jeong, a 20-year-old college student, told The Korea Herald. Jang said she uses the app for hours in a single day.

“That’s the reason I even have a smartphone, and I know many others who got one for that same reason,” said the Kyungnam University student.

Kakao Talk started collecting email addresses to verify accounts, denying service and threatening account deletion to those who do not provide the information.

“They are able to provide the service through verification systems that use the client’s phone number and serial number, and they are also using IDs as a backup,” said the NHRC in their ruling.

“Using the excuse of verifying accounts in order to collect emails as part of personal information clashes with the collection limitation principle, and violates the right to informational self-determination.”

The NHRC has also asked that the KCC do an overall inspection regarding the company’s collection of personal information and for guidelines regarding the matter.

By Robert Lee (