By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Jul. 4, 2023 8:05PM GMT+9
South Korean teenagers successfully deleted nearly 750 posts which contained their personal information with the help of the country’s privacy agency.
In a press release on Sunday, the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) stated that it received almost 3,500 requests from children over the last two months as part of a pilot program aimed at protecting teenagers’ right to be forgotten. The PIPC accepted applications from individuals under the age of 24 who wished to delete sensitive posts which had been uploaded before they became 18. The posts included pictures, videos, and writings that contained names, dates of births, phone numbers, and addresses.
The privacy agency concentrated on protecting teenagers’ right to be forgotten, launching a pilot program last April to help children delete personal information posted online. The PIPC explained that although minors are using digital devices from a very early age, they are unaware of the privacy risks linked to exposing private data.
Teenagers are suffering from sensitive information exposure, as they have not had the ability to erase what they have posted in the past. According to a local report last year, an 18-year-old was experiencing hardship caused by a sensual photo she posted on social media. Although she removed it after she transferred to another school, she discovered that the photos were still available online.
The PIPC and the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) assisted teenagers in 2,763 cases, including 744 cases in which they informed teens about ways to delete sensitive information on their own. The government agencies also reached out to the website operators to remove minors’ private data and resolved 26 cases where children requested that their information be excluded from search engines.
Middle school students at the age of 15 asked for the removal of information the most, adding up to 652 cases. First year and second year high school students followed suit, amounting to 498 and 501 cases respectively. The youngest applicant of the pilot program was an 11-year-old. YouTube was the most requested online platform that minors asked for information to be deleted from. Facebook, Naver, TikTok, and Instagram were also ranked at the top of the list.
Children mostly requested the removal of posts uploaded on a website where they permanently deleted their accounts, according to the privacy agency. Teenagers also asked for help because they forgot the account information which they created at a younger age. In the statement, the privacy agency shared a case where teenagers requested that their childhood videos be erased after being bullied by friends who accidentally found the footage. The applicants wanted the videos to be deleted before they became viral but could not remove them because they forgot the password. The PIPC did not disclose the detailed information of the applicants due to privacy.
“There are multiple cases similar to the ones described in the statement,” said an official of the personal information protection policy division at PIPC. “We look into the submissions and help teenagers delete their personal information on their own. If they don’t have access to their account, we reach out to the operators for removal.”
The cover image of this article was designed by Sangseon Kim.
Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.