PIDMC in South Korea Initiates Collective Dispute Mediation between Facebook and its Users

By 2021/07/13 No Comments

Personal Information Dispute Mediation Committee(“PIDMC”) in South Korea has announced on July 8th, in an official statement that it made a resolution to commence the collective dispute mediation proceedings between Facebook Inc. and its users in South Korea. PIDMC publicly announced the commencement of the proceedings and following plans to further accept applications from any other users who wish to participate in the collective dispute mediation. In the coming months, PIDMC is expected to proceed a thorough investigation over the complaint, and is likely to provide recommendations or propose the mediation as a settlement to the parties involved.

After eighty-nine Facebook users in South Korea, represented by Lawfirm Jihyang, filed a collective complaint to PIDMC in April 16th, against Facebook Inc. and Facebook Ireland, PIDMC has come to a decision to open the case and proceed the mediation procedure. Kim, Il-Hwan (Chairperson of PIDMC) chose to take proactive measures against Facebook as public awareness arises against malpractices of big-techs on users’ data protection and privacy. According to PIDMC’s press release report, this case marks as the very first collective dispute mediation case since the Personal Information Protection Commission(“PIPC”) was established last August, 2020.

The complaint claims that Facebook has been providing personal data to third parties without user’s consent, in breach of Personal Information Protection Act(“PIPA”). The users also filed a petition for Facebook to disclose the details of the personal data sharing practices including the scope of the personal data and the list of the third parties that obtained the access to such data.

When Facebook accepts a collective dispute mediation award presented by the PIDMC, the PIDMC may advise the personal information controller of Facebook to prepare and submit a compensation plan for the benefit of the non-party data subjects suffered from the same incident.

In previous to the users’ complaint for PIDMC, PIPC – a government agency in South Korea on personal information and privacy protection – has fined 6.7 billion KRW to Facebook in November, 2020, after an investigation of Facebook’s business practices on user’s privacy protection. The investigation report of PIPC showed that Facebook has been sharing personal data of at least 3.3 million out of its 18 million users in South Korea to the operators of third-party apps installed in Facebook to create customised advertisements and services. PIPC concluded that the users were unaware whether their data were being collected and shared to the third parties, confirming that Facebook obtained no legitimate consent of any of the users.

As PIDMC has commenced the dispute mediation procedure for Facebook, any Facebook users can submit an application to participate in this case until July 26th at PIDMC website(www.kopico.go.kr or kopico@korea.kr) or to the legal representative, Lawfirm Jihyang(www.jihyangsosong.com).

Lawfirm Jihyang and Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet – a civil advocacy group for digital rights (www.jinbo.net) – also seek to file additional complaints and other litigation suits against big-tech companies for their malpractices on users’ privacy protection and anti-competitive measures.


Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, Lawfirm Jihyang

for further information, please contact jihyang@jihyanglaw.com