KR: GS Caltex cleared in data theft case

Follow-up to an incident originally covered on

Prosecutors have cleared energy provider GS Caltex, two of its information managers and affiliate GS Nextation of allegations that they failed in their duty to protect personal information of more than 11 million customers.

Five employees of GS Nextation, an insurance affiliate of GS Caltex, were prosecuted last year on charges that they used their access to the customer database to obtain names, resident identification numbers, addresses, phone numbers and email address of the customers. The Seoul Central District Court convicted four of the employees on Jan. 20, handing each a one-year prison sentence.

The prosecution’s decision to not prosecute the companies is expected to have an effect on a 13 billion-won ($9.45 million) class-action suit brought by some 13,000 customers against the companies for invasion of privacy.

“Under the nation’s laws, a petroleum refining company has no legal responsibility to protect personal information, so we had no legal ground to file indictments,” a source in the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said.

The current law governing the use of personal information of customers only applies to information and communications service providers such as telecommunications and Internet companies and operators of department stores, discount marts and condominiums.

After the loophole was found, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security announced updated enforcement regulations on Dec. 31 of last year.

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