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Real Name Rule on Korean Websites

Real Name Rule on Korean W...

Most Korean website, including information, movie reservation, shopping just to name a few, have required that users provide their personal information, including their real name, and until recently, their national security number (ID number).

This policy has created problems for both foreign nationals and citizens accessing Korean websites. Because the majority of sites have been programmed to take only the number configuration assigned to ethnic Koreans born in Korea, foreign residents with an alien registration number have been shut out from them. (Following the person’s birth date is a number that indicates gender – ‘1’ for Korea born males or ‘2’ for Korean born females; ‘5’ for foreign national males or ‘6’ for foreign national females.)

Not only was the regulation an issue for foreign nationals, it make every Korean national using the system vulnerable to hackers, spam, phishing and identify theft. There has been a number of hacking attacks on Korean companies and institutions, resulting in the leak of thousands of users/clients’ personal information being leaked.

Regulation Change
As a result, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) announced early in 2012 that as of 18 August 2012, websites in Korea  would no longer be able to collect national security numbers when users sign up for services. Moreover, websites that have user data stored already must destroy it within the next two years. The law applies to all websites including portals, online games and shopping malls.

This new law applies to the collection of ID numbers only and does not apply to online financial transaction. Also, it does not change the real-name requirement. Website users will now have to use other methods to authenticate themselves.

Alternative ID Methods
The KCC has listed the following website identification options:
i-PIN (Internet Personal Identification Number): This is a new standard method offered by the Korea Internet & Security Agency that makes authentication easier. To obtain an i-PIN, users are required to provide their real name and national security number. The website is in Korean only.
Cell phone:  Data containing the user’s cell phone number, date of birth and name is transferred to the website and authenticated via text message.
Electronic Authentication Certificate (SN): A file containing a user’s personal information the SN is used mostly for internet banking and transactions. It can also be used as a method of authentication. The user’s SN, date of birth and name are sent to the website and the certificate is verified online.
Credit Card: Card information, date of birth and names are sent to the website and verified with the card company.

It is likely that  the i-PIN will become the most popular method for authentication since it is the easiest, although ironically, it still requires users to provide their ID numbers. The i-PIN option is mandatory for websites with over 10,000 visitors on average per day but many websites exceeding this number are still using only ID numbers to authenticate users.

Regardless of which of  these option a foreign national selects, if you don’t speak/read Korean, you will need help from a Korean-speaker to register. This is also not a solution for foreign visitors wanting to access a Korena website, nor is it certain that foreign residents ID numbers will be accepted either.

Grace Period
The government has given websites a grace period of six month after 18 August to adjust to the change that was announced in early 2012. This means there will be no fines until February 2013 for companies that have not yet updated their systems. It also means that one can expect that many, if not most, websites will continue to require users provide a Korean citizen’s ID to use the website. It’s also possible, maybe even likely, that that 6-month grace period will be extended (as has been the case with the new address system and other new regulations).

K4E Editor: We try to make the information on Korea4Expats.com as complete and accurate as possible, so if you notice any errors or omissions in the content above, please let us know at info@korea4expats.com.

Last Updated on 2012-10-14

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