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Korea to ban online collection of resident numbers

Companies can face fines up to 1 percent of revenue for data leaks

Resident registration numbers will no longer be requested by websites and companies as the government announced Friday measures for better data protection.

The online sector will be first banned from collecting resident registration numbers from as early as August, followed by public organizations and private companies in phases.

The Korea Communications Commission, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the Financial Services Commission said that their joint plan has received final approval.

The announcement came amid privacy concerns after a series of large-scale hackings into major portals and other data related crimes such as identity theft and voice phishing here.

Of the nation’s some 1.8 million websites, 320,000, or 17.8 percent, collect resident registration numbers. There are 633 legal ordinances that allow the collection and use of the private data.

Aimed at minimizing the collection and use of resident registration numbers, the new plan contains stronger measures to prevent potential data leakage.

Registration numbers should not be requested except in some unavoidable cases following related laws.

They will be required to offer alternatives for identification such as Internet personal identity numbers and digital certificates.

Collected data also will be controlled with a stricter database system, which orders officials managing data to use a PC separated from Internet networks.

With punitive measures being toughened as well, companies that are involved in data leakage will face fines of up to 1 percent of their revenue, while their executive officers responsible for illegal activities can be suspended or fired.

More specific regulations will be finalized through the pending revision to the personal information protection law that is scheduled in the second half of the year, officials said.

Resident registration numbers have widely been used under the current real-name system here not just for administrative purposes but also for financial, medial, welfare and other commercial services.

By Lee Ji-yoon (
Korea Herald daum