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Government Agencies Use Personal Information to Make Public Policy

Government Agencies Use Personal Information to Make Public Policy

Posted September. 24, 2005 07:12,   


Forty-three administrative agencies are found to have established a database of 12.5 million “policy customers” and regularly send e-mails to them to publicize the government’s policies. In particular, 18 government agencies have been grading and managing about 6.7 million people’s personal information, including e-mail address.

According to the report titled, “The Current State of the PIMS (Policy and Issue Management System), for the PCRM (Policy Customer Relationship Management)” submitted by the Government Information Agency for the National Assembly’s inspection of the administration to Kim Chung-hwan, the Grand National Party lawmaker in the Culture and Tourism Committee on September 23, the policy customers the 18 government agencies have secured as of the end of July include 581,408 basic customers, 637,572 specific customers and 5,502,618 associated customers.

Basic customers are members who voluntarily subscribe to an “e-mail club” on the websites of government agencies. Specific customers are opinion leaders who are related to each agency’s policies, and associated customers are ordinary citizens that affiliated organizations of each government agency or associations have secured.

Of the 18 government agencies, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development ranked first in terms of the number of customers on the list with 1,594,735 customers, followed by the Ministry of Science and Technology (1,337,162), the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (888,846), and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (751,091).

Kim argued, “The government is promoting its policies at random by obtaining e-mail addresses without consent of the persons involved. Currently, the Government Information Agency is developing a “Cyber Alarm System,” which can collect postings on bulletin boards on the web sites of political parties and civil organizations and replies from major web sites to classify people according to their political leaning. There is a fear that this system could infringe on the public’s right to protection of communications information.”

In response, the head of the Government Information Agency said, “We will make every effort to make sure that there will be no violations of privacy or the right to protection of communications information.”

An official in the Government Information Agency said, “We are running the Policy Customer Relationship Management (PCRM) program in order to collect public opinion before making policies and to make public government policies well. Since each agency manages the list independently, there can be many overlapping customers, and imaginary numbers of them may be significant.”

Yong-Gwan Jung Hyung-June Park yongari@donga.com lovesong@donga.com