The revision bill of the Personal Information Protection Act – one of the three major data laws that also include the Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection, etc., and the Credit Information Use and Protection Act – passed at a meeting of the Public Administration and Security Committee of the National Assembly on Tuesday. However, the other two bills are yet to pass the standing committee stage. The floor leaders of the three parliamentary negotiating blocs – the Democratic Party of Korea, Liberty Korea Party, and Bareunmirae Party – agreed on Monday to process the data bills as much as possible at a regular session of the National Assembly on Friday.
Since the South Korea government proposed deregulation measures to promote the data economy in August last year and relevant revision bills were put forth in November last year, a full year has passed as the government and the ruling and opposition parties push responsibility to others. It will be difficult for them to come up with an excuse of the insufficient assessment of the bills at this point.
The key of the three revision bills is to anonymize personal information to use it as big data. It is a prerequisite to pursuing the fourth industrial revolution in various sectors, including information and communications, bio, and finance industries. The revisions will have practical effect only when all three of the bills pass. This cannot be further delayed given South Korea’s competitors – the U.S., China, Japan, and EU countries – that have already set up necessary systems and are moving forward.
Chairman Park Yong-maan of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry described the current situation as one in which the “crude oil” of the future is banned from extraction by the political circle. According to Park’s analogy, the civic groups that are opposing the data laws due to the risk of personal information leakage are objecting to oil extraction based on the fear about the environmental impact to be caused by petroleum products.
If the three data bills fail to pass during the current term of the National Assembly, they will be automatically discarded and the whole process from the proposal of the revision bills will have to start over by the next National Assembly to be formed after the general election in April next year. Experts say that a one-year delay in the passing of the data bills leads to South Korea’s industrial competitiveness falling 10 years behind. All three bills should pass at a regular session of the National Assembly on Friday, as promised by both the ruling and opposition parties, to reduce the blame on the political circles for hindering economic development.