Apple Fined nominal sum over iPhone data storage in South Korea

Korea’s communications regulator has ordered Apple to pay a nominal fine of W3 million for privacy violations. The regulator determined that Apple’s local operators illegally collected information on the locations of its iPhone subscriber. According to the KCC, Apple Korea compiled data concerning the whereabouts of 2 million iPhone users from June 22 last year to May 4. Apple stored the location of cellphone towers and Wi-Fi hotspots in users’ phones but did not try to find out who the iPhones belonged to, the commission concluded. Although the company said it had first obtained customers’ consent, Apple violated the law because it did not inform them that such information was being monitored and stored even after the tracking function was turned off. Korean critics have slammed the nominal fine imposed by the Korea Communications Commission on Wednesday as being way too lenient and nothing more than a mild slap on the wrist.

Washington, Berlin and Rome have also been investigating Apple’s collection of user location information since it emerged in April that one of the iPhone’s programs stored user location data for more than 10 months. The Korean law on the protection of personal information imposes a jail sentence of up to five years or a fine of up to W50 million if guilty parties are found to have collected location data without customers’ consent. The KCC’s decision will likely have a huge impact on the viability of class action suits by iPhone users and ongoing investigations in other countries.