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Google and Meta Platforms have been ordered to pay fines amounting to 100 billion won ($72 million) in Korea for violating the country’s privacy regulations.

Two tech giants accused of violating privacy

Two multinational tech giants of Google and Meta Platforms have been ordered to pay fines amounting to 100 billion won ($72 million) in Korea for violating the country’s privacy regulations.

The Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) held a general meeting on Sept. 9 to decide to levy 69.2 billion won ($50 million) for Google, and 30.8 billion won ($22 million) for Meta in fines.

The two companies were accused of illegally collecting information about user behaviors from services they don’t own and taking advantage of them for customized advertising.

This marks the first time for the Seoul government to slap a fine for gathering user behavior data used in personalized marketing. The financial penalties are also the biggest for privacy law infringement.

The PIPC, the country’s privacy watchdog, also instructed Google and Meta to inform their users before they amass and use the behavior information.

“The unlawful practices are a grave breach of the relevant law because gathering behavior data along with user information is feared to pose a serious threat to privacy,” PIPC Chairman Yoon Jong-in said.

Google and Meta are expected to bring the case to court.

Google said in a statement that it would review the PIPC decision, while Meta said that it was considering litigation as the company was confident of its keeping local regulations.

The PIPC has carried out investigations into the cases since early 2021.

Observers point out that the PIPC would strengthen its stance on privacy protection.

“In line with the development of leading-edge technology, concerns surface on the possible violation of privacy,” Prof. Seo Yong-gu at Sookmyung Women’s University said.

“Accordingly, the government would try to put forth more efforts to protect privacy. Along the way, there might be more conflicts with high-tech corporations.”

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