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South Korea fines Apple £1,726 for location data debacle

More payouts on the way
Wed Aug 03 2011, 12:07

SMARTPHONE AND TABLET MAKER Apple has been fined 3m won (£1,726) by the South Korean communications regulator for collecting location information without permission.

The fine comes after revelations that Apple, Google and other makers of smartphone operating systems were storing people's location data without any authorisation, sometimes for as long as a year. These problems have since been addressed in software patches.

The Korea Communications Commission launched an investigation into the privacy invasion and decided that Apple had collected the information illegally. According to Reuters, it ordered the company's South Korean division to pay the fine, which, while small, sets a precedent for similar fines across the world.

Despite the fine, Apple continues to assert that it did nothing wrong. "Apple is not tracking the location of your Iphone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," said Steve Park, a spokesperson for Apple Korea.

Apple has so far escaped fines in other countries, but South Korea is not so forgiving. Last month it was revealed that a lawyer had secured compensation of 1m won (£575) over the location data fiasco. Close to 30,000 people will launch a class action lawsuit in the country soon, which could see a more substantial payout given the numbers involved.

Apple is also being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission in the US and by the European Commission over the location data issue. It's not yet clear if the company will be fined by either of these bodies, but they will likely not want to seem too lenient in comparison to South Korea's decision.

Apple is not the only one to get a slap on the wrist by South Korean authorities. Google's offices were raided in May over the issue and the company is still being investigated. Google said it was co-operating with the Korean Communications Commission to resolve the matter.

The regulator also ordered both companies to improve their policies regarding location data and to ensure that all such information is properly encrypted. µ


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