[Issue] [September 2015] In Focus_Social Affairs : Dangers of the De-identification of Personal Information for the Invigoration of the Big Data Industry

of the De-identification of Personal Information for the Invigoration of the
Big Data Industry


Park Ji-ho

Staff, Consumer Justice Team

Recently, the government has taken
administrative and legislative measures to relieve regulations concerning laws
on the protection of personal information to revitalize the creative economy
and the big data industry. Last December, the Korea Communications Commission
released the Big Data Personal Information Guidelines as an administrative precedent.
Furthermore, on June the 3rd of this year the Financial Services Commission
announced plans to amend the laws regarding credit information.

The focus of this legislation is to allow
an exception within the current laws concerning the protection of personal
information when concerned with the de-identification of personal information. Essentially,
companies will be allowed to collect personal information without the consent
of individuals.

Consequently, this will circumvent the
regulations on personal information, which will seriously limit people’s basic
rights, all in the name of revitalizing the big data industry. However, bills
based on the ideas of de-identification are already being proposed in the
national assembly. They are becoming a source of controversy, as the content of
the bills themselves are strikingly similar to the position of the government.
The fact that the National Assembly is taking action aligned with the position
of the government, without farther consideration, is problematic.


Across the world there are serious discussions
on the effects the big data industry is having on the security of personal
information. In Korea especially, there are criticisms being made over personal
information leaks that are proving how vulnerable the protection system is. The
legislation of indiscreet policies is clearly not a top priority.

The essential problems surrounding the protection of personal information must be dealt with before the vitalization of the big data industry can occur. Policies must be made to amend these faults. For example, there should be more calls for the amendment of the national ID system, which has been cited as the source of personal information leaks, but such reforms are not widely discussed in Korea.

Anonymity measure should be set for the big
data industry to be able to use private information, rather than de-identification,
since it allows for the re-identification of individuals. Furthermore, a
process for the consent of the information-giver to share the information ought
to be required. The personal informational autonomy of the information-holders
is a basic right that must be secured. It should not be disregarded or taken by
companies seeking profits. This will not only result in more personal
information leaks, but even greater damage in the future.

Translator : Ahn Yu-mi