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Apple fined in South Korea for violating location data collection law

National Assembly of the Republic of South Korea

Apple and Google’s business interests in Korea have been fined for violating a law on collecting location data, but it’s not clear why Apple got dinged.

Apple has been ordered by the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) to pay a fine of 210 million won (approximately $153,000) for collecting users’ location data without their consent. The action violated a clause regarding disclosing the policy on location data and others.

The KCC has also ordered Google to pay a lesser fine to the tune of 3 million won, or approximately $2,179, for a similar violation.

Google and Apple weren’t the only companies affected by the relatively tiny fines, either. The commission imposed fines on 188 firms, including the Korean units of Google and Apple, for violating the Act on the Protection and Use of Location Information, according to The Korea Times.

“Location information is a key resource to improve users’ convenience and a foundation for the growth of innovative industries, but we need to consider the protection of individuals’ privacy and social security in using the information,” KCC Chairman Kim Hong-il said.

It’s not clear why Apple got fined, and there is no public information that is granular enough to determine specifically why. Apple is proactive about seeking user permission for location tracking information. There are several spots in iOS and iPadOS where the user has to explicitly give permission for that data use.

Also not clear, is why Samsung didn’t get fined. Android is less explicit about permissions surrounding the use and collection of location information, and, obviously, Samsung’s smartphones use Android at their core.

Apple is a growing presence in South Korea, generating over five times more profit from South Korea in its fiscal year ending September 2023 than it did the year before.

In April, South Korea banned the use of iPhones in the military as part of a ban on all devices capable of voice recording that do not allow third-party apps to disable the feature.