South Korean regulator fears Meta's collecting too much data with revised T&Cs

Probes to see if Facebook and Insta could operate with less info than required by revised legalese

South Korean authorities have taken issue with Facebook and Instagram's new terms and conditions, which come into effect on Tuesday, July 26.

A Friday announcement by South Korea's Personal Information Protection Commission outlines the regulator's intention to review whether The Social Network's new legalese requires collection of information that is not necessary for Meta to operate Facebook and Instagram.

The announcement is contentious because Facebook published its revised terms of service in May 2022, but the Commission revealed its probe just four days before they came into force. Facebook has also delayed the new agreement's implementation to August 9 under some circumstances.

South Korean law gives the Commission the power to require online services to operate with only the information strictly needed to deliver a service.

Meta's revised T&Cs are a little creepy. The old document stated that the company needs to "store and distribute content and data in our datacenters and systems around the world, including outside your country of residence."

The revised version states that Meta needs to "transfer, store and distribute content and data to our datacenters, partners, service providers, vendors and systems around the world, including outside your country of residence."

The Register understands that South Korea is concerned about the involvement of "partners, service providers, vendors and systems around the world", in addition to its concerns that Meta may be acquiring and using more data than is necessary to operate its services.

The Commission has not offered a timeframe in which it will conclude its consideration of Meta's data use practices.

Facebook appears not to have commented on the matter at the time of writing.

South Korea seems to be going it alone on this one. The Register cannot find another nation that has taken issue with Meta's new legalese. But South Korea has previously gone it alone on the issue of app store payments, famously enacting a law requiring app store operators to offer alternatives to their own payment systems.

Google and Apple have both complied with that law – albeit less than enthusiastically – and other nations have subsequently looked favourably upon South Korea's efforts.

Australia also blazed a solo path when requiring Google and Facebook to pay some media outlets (not The Register) for the right to link to their news stories. Again, that precedent was welcomed globally, and Canada and India are considering similar laws.

With Meta's new T&Cs going live within the next few days, fellow travellers may be hard to come by in the short term. ®

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