South Korea slams fines on Google and Meta for privacy violations

A 3D printed Facebook’s new rebrand logo Meta is seen in front of displayed Google logo in this illustration photo.

South Korea levied tens of millions of dollars in fines on Alphabet’s Google and Meta Platforms for privacy law violations, authorities said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Personal Information Protection Commission said it fined Google 69.2 billion won (an equivalent of $50 million) and Meta 30.8 billion won (an equivalent of $22 million).

The privacy panel said the firms did not clearly inform service users and obtain their prior consent when collecting and analysing behavioural information to infer their interests or use them for customised advertisements.

“We disagree with the PIPC’s findings, and will be reviewing the full written decision once it’s shared with us,” a Google spokesperson said.

“We’ve always demonstrated our commitment to making ongoing updates that give users control and transparency, while providing the most helpful products possible. We remain committed to engaging with the PIPC to protect the privacy of South Korean users.”

A Meta spokesperson said, “While we respect the commission’s decision, we are confident that we work with our clients in a legally compliant way that meets the processes required by local regulations. As such, we do not agree with the commission’s decision, and will be open to all options including seeking a ruling from the court.”

Also on Wednesday, Google suffered its second setback in Europe in less than a year as the top court agreed with EU antitrust regulators that it had abused its dominance. Google lost its challenge to a 2.42 billion euro (an equivalent of $2.42 billion) fine last year, the first of a trio of cases, though the EU Court of Justice did trim it slightly.

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