South Korea: New Privacy Guidelines Now Effective in South Korea: Online Customized Ads; Smartphone App Access Rights

Two new privacy guidelines are now effective in South Korea. Earlier this year, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) published "Privacy Guidelines for Online Customized Ads" (Korean language link) and a "Privacy Guide for Smartphone App Access Rights." The KCC indicated that both sets of guidelines would take effect in July, after which the KCC would begin checking whether companies have implemented appropriate measures to comply with South Korea's privacy laws and regulations. Companies that engage in online customized advertising or participate in the mobile app ecosystem in South Korea—including publishers, third-party service providers, operating system providers, smartphone manufacturers, and app market operators—should take steps to ensure compliance with South Korea's new privacy guidelines.

Privacy Guidelines for Online Customized Ads

In February, the KCC issued its "Privacy Guidelines for Online Customized Ads" (the "Guidelines") that describe the steps that companies must take when engaging in online customized advertising in South Korea. The Guidelines define "online customized advertisements" as advertisements that are customized to the user after analyzing and inferring the user's interest, preferences, and inclination by processing "behavior information," which is defined as online activity information that can identify and analyze the user's interests, preferences, and tendencies, such as history of website visits and history of application usage. Importantly, South Korea's Guidelines apply to behavior information collected and used in both websites and mobile apps.

The Guidelines describe various requirements applicable to both "advertisers" (defined as companies that collect behavior information through online media, such as their own or third-party websites and apps, and transmits online customized advertisements) and "media businesses" (defined as businesses that allow the collection of behavior information through online media, such as their websites and apps). In this regard, the Guidelines are very similar to the notice-and-choice framework established in the United States under the Federal Trade Commission's 2009 Staff Report on Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising and the Digital Advertising Alliance's (DAA) Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising and related guidance. The Guidelines recommend that advertisers and media businesses:

  • Provide information to users in a privacy policy, including: (1) the types of behavior information collected or transferred to third parties; (2) the purpose of collecting such information; (3) the methods of information collection; (4) how to opt out or exercise other choices; (5) data retention and use periods and any subsequent processing; (6) how consumers can seek redress; and (6) to the extent that a company allows third parties to collect behavior information through its websites or mobile apps or otherwise provides information to third parties, the names of the third-party companies collecting, receiving, or processing behavior information;
  • Install icons in or around online customized ads that can be easily identified by users (such as the DAA's Advertising Options icon);
  • Provide a means for users to opt out or exercise other choices, including:
    • Providing a direct means for users to opt-out, either through the advertisements themselves or by providing opt-out links;
    • By describing how users can control online customized ads through the user's browser or mobile device settings, such as by deleting or blocking cookies or setting ad preferences on a mobile device;
    • Providing links and explanations to industry self-regulatory opt-out pages where consumers can block online customized ads, such as the opt-out pages provided by the DAA or Network Advertising Initiative (NAI);
  • Minimize information collection to the minimum amount necessary;
  • Do not collect, use, or analyze sensitive behavior information—such as an individual's thoughts, beliefs, family and friendship relationships, academic background, or illness—without the prior consent of the user;
  • Do not collect behavior information from children under 14 years old;
  • Obtain prior consent from users before combining behavior information with personally-identifiable information, and only after clearly informing the user of the fact, the purposes of use, types of information combined, and retention periods;
  • Implement technical and administrative safeguards to protect users' behavior information against unauthorized use, disclosure, or fraud, and retain data only for the minimum amount of time necessary to achieve the company's purposes, unless otherwise required by law;
  • Take steps to increase consumer awareness of online customized advertising and implement processes to address user inquiries, suspend campaigns, provide damages or other relief, and resolve claims of infringement of users' personal information.

The Guidelines also provide detailed instructions for consumers to help them understand how users can exercise control over online customized advertising.

Privacy Guide for Smartphone App Access Rights

In March, the KCC also issued a "Privacy Guide for Smartphone App Access Rights" (the "Guide"), which describes how to comply with South Korean privacy laws and regulations when collecting information through smartphone mobile apps. In its press release, the KCC stated that the amended Act on the Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilisation and Information Protection ("the Network Act") and a related enforcement decree from March 23, 2017, requires that app service providers distinguish "optional" from "necessary" access rights for smartphone apps, notify users of this information, and obtain users' consent to access personal data stored on users' smartphones. The KCC indicated that its Guide was intended to prevent any confusion regarding implementation and to promote an accurate understanding of the law.

The Guide applies to all actors in the mobile app ecosystem that operate on smartphones and tablet PCs with mobile communications capabilities, including operating system providers, smartphone manufacturers, app market operators, and app service providers. However, the KCC indicated that its Guide does not apply to the collection of information through devices that use Bluetooth, WiFi, or tethering functions without utilizing mobile communications networks.

In terms of substantive requirements, the Guide imposes different compliance measures on various actors in the ecosystem, as follows:

  • App service providers: (1) notify users of necessary and/or optional access rights; and (2) implement a process of notifying users and obtaining consent through the operating system's features. Importantly, the guide emphasizes that app service providers should: (a) distinguish between necessary and optional access rights; (b) clearly inform users about the categories and reasons that access rights are needed; and (c) explain how to procure user consent for access rights.
  • Operating system providers: (1) provide features for obtaining consent and withdrawing consent; and (2) prepare and release standards governing access rights and security measures.
  • Smartphone manufacturers: install operating systems on smartphones that allow users to provide or withdraw consent for access rights.
  • App developers: implement settings that allow users to provide or withdraw consent for access rights during the process of developing and distributing apps, in a manner appropriate to the smartphone and smartphone operating system's environment.
  • App market operators: (1) provide a space for notices about access rights; and (2) operate a system to monitor access rights.
  • Users: after confirming the content of the notice regarding access rights, grant consent, or withdraw consent at a later time.

The KCC indicated in its press release that "[s]tarting in July 2017, the KCC will begin checking whether providers have implemented appropriate access measures and if they are complying with regulations."

Implication for Businesses

South Korea's data protection laws and regulations impose strict requirements on companies operating in South Korea. Accordingly, companies that expand into South Korea and other emerging markets should exercise caution and ensure that they comply with local laws and regulatory guidance, such as South Korea's new guidelines applicable to online customized advertising and smartphone app access rights. The KCC has indicated that it will begin enforcing the new guidelines this month to ensure that companies comply with applicable laws and regulations.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions