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Dec 15, 2010

Facebook under Watch of the Korean Communications Commission

Facebook has received, in short, an order on December 10, 2010 from the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) to modify its site to comply with Article 22 of Korea's "Act on Promotion of Information and Communication Network Utilization and Information Protection" which states that: "If an information and communications service provider intends to gather user personal information, they shall obtain user consent."

The order requires Facebook to receive explicit consent from users before personal information is revealed to other users or utilized by third parties.

Facebook has 30-days to comply or challenge the order. We will see soon if Facebook will simply take down the Korean language site, challenge the order, comply with the order or simply ignore it. Facebook, as of posting, doesn't have a local office, thus, enforcement will be difficult for the KCC.

Facebook has almost two and half million Korean users and a Korean language version of its website. The largest Facebook-type site in Korea is Cyworld (25 million users). Cyworld has failed to expand past the Korean market and Facebook has been expanding market-share in recent years in Korea.

In a side note, the English website of the Korean Communications Commission has one of the oddest catch phrases: "The World that Imagination become a reality." The KCC should be ordered by the Administration to get someone to edit the English website. For Korea to become a Global IT powerhouse, the Commission dedicated to this mission, should create a professional English site.

"Broad castins," Telecmunnications," Conyergance Service" and the grammar errors throughout may be a little comical when done by the developing Chinese government, but not the developed Korean government. 

We also know that perfection is near impossible for a website. However, this site and most of the Korean government English language sites are an embarrassment to a nation that many native English speakers call home and promote to foreign investors on a daily basis. 

The scrutiny of Facebook will send many journalists to this site and send many more away with a sense that the FCC is incompetent or at best has little need for an English language site.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com