South Korea launches AI privacy team to address security concerns

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Oct. 6, 2023 10:40PM GMT+9

South Korea’s privacy regulator officially launched a team dedicated to addressing the concerns regarding artificial intelligence on Friday.

The new unit is tasked with assisting South Korean firms to consider users’ privacy from the early stage when they develop products and services that leverage AI technologies.

According to a statement released by the Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC), the new unit, called the AI privacy team, started its operation on October 6. The AI privacy team is placed under the supervision of the PIPC’s director general for personal information policy.

The privacy agency is preparing to launch a pilot program this month that aims to exempt the companies from possible further penalties once they work side by side with the privacy agency during the initial phases of their AI-infused products and services development. In addition, the privacy watchdog stated that the team will provide legal consultations to AI companies to lessen their confusion related to privacy regulations.

“The AI companies are developing their products without accurate consideration of privacy laws. Problems occurred after their products were released to the public,” said an official to the PIPC to The Readable. “We are trying to resolve the problem by directly engaging with the company firsthand.”

The official added that the exemption would be given only to those who followed the PIPC’s suggestions until the final phase of development.

The creation of the PIPC’s AI privacy team comes as the fast-evolving technology attracted a surge of interest among South Korean companies. According to a report issued by the Software Policy & Research Institute (SPRi) last April, South Korea’s AI industry experienced rapid growth, earning 3.9 trillion won ($2.8 billion) in 2022, jumping from 1.9 trillion won ($1.4 billion) in 2020.

Last August, the PIPC disclosed its plan to launch the AI privacy team as part of the government’s strategic roadmap in response to the growing influence of AI and the novel challenges it introduces to the public sphere. Furthermore, the PIPC announced that they will convene the Global Privacy Assembly in 2025 as a crucial platform for in-depth discussions on the privacy challenges accentuated by the advancement of AI technology.

The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.

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.