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By James Lim
May 2 — South Korean consumers will be able to request website administrators and search engine operators to restrict the public's access to personal information in stored digital content as early as June 2016, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) recently announced.
“These are not legislated requirements but a strong start for the enforcement of the right to be forgotten in South Korea,” a KCC official in the Privacy Protection and Ethics Division told Bloomberg BNA May 2.
The KCC is similar to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and has broad regulatory powers over the country's media, telecommunications and Internet industries.
The commission unveiled its non-binding “Guidelines on the Right to Request Access Restrictions on Personal Internet Postings.” The first of its kind guidance in the country allows consumers to request that search engines and website operators restrict access and ultimately remove online information—such as blogs, pictures and videos—that the individual data subjects can't delete themselves.
Applications from data subjects to remove content should include URL links, evidence of personal identity and reasons for restrictions, according to the guidance. Website administrators and search engine operators are responsible for authenticating the identity of the requester before removing content.
Under the guidelines, someone may claim ownership of restricted postings by filing an opposition with supporting evidence. Furthermore, people can designate a family member or someone acting on their behalf to exercise after death the right to be forgotten.
The commission described the guidelines as a “minimum” and “preliminary” precaution to protect people's right to privacy in gray areas not protected by existing legal measures—such as injunctions against infringing and defamatory postings available under the Act on the Promotion of Information Communication Network Utilization and the Protection of Information.
The copyright law and the media mediation law also provide similar protections against third-party breaches of privacy but nothing related to the right to be forgotten.
The guidelines will take effect June 2016 and necessary improvements will be made later, the commission said. The guidelines equally apply to foreign Internet companies providing Korean-language services for South Korean consumers, the commission said.
The commission didn't detail how the suggested rules would apply to service providers operating from outside the country.
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Text of the “Guidelines on the Right to Request Access Restrictions on Personal Internet Postings” is available, in Korean, at http://src.bna.com/eBy.
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