Transparency Report is a corporate status report containing statistics, such as the government's user data requests for the purpose of investigation.
Kakao wishes to fulfill its resposibility to be transparent for users by issuing Transparency Reports.
Kakao responds to the government's requests based on the necessity for warrants and shares the relevant situation with users in a transparent manner in order to securely manage personal information and faithfully fulfill the obligations of realizing the public interest as a member of the society.
Contents of Transparency Report
Kakao Transparency Report is mainly composed of four statistical data: communication data / communication-restricting measures / Communication confirmation data / warrant of seizure and search.
- Communication data
User name, resident registration number, address, telephone number, ID, and subscription/withdrawal date are classified as "communication data," according to the Telecommunications Business Act.
Courts, prosecutors, and investigative agencies may request communication data when necessary for criminal investigations, executions, and trials.
- Communication-restricting measures
Communication-restricting measures often refer to wiretapping telecommunications.
According to the Protection of Communications Secrets Act, communication-restricting measures shall be used as a supplementary means of facilitating a criminal investigation or ensuring national security, and efforts shall be made to minimize the violation of people's communication secrets.
Kakao has stopped cooperating with communication-restricting measures since October 2016 following the Supreme Court's decision [2016 Do 8137] that there is no admissibility of evidence if it is not real-time wiretapping of telecommunication under the Protection of Communication Secrets Act.
However, in the case of Daum services, Kakao provides part of its data after a thorough review pursuant to legal standards.
- Communication confirmation data
The other party's subscriber number, log record (date/time), IP address, etc. are classified as communication confirmation data under the Protection of Communication Secrets Act.
Investigation agencies shall request data by permission of courts, including request reason, relevance to the requested user, and the scope of required data.
- Warrant of seizure and search
Warrant of seizure and search refers to a compulsory investigation conducted by an investigation agency to find evidence against the suspects and is issued by courts upon request of the prosecutor.
The warrant includes items to be confisticated or place to be searched. In case of telecommunications, it includes specific period to be investigated.
Principles and procedures for processing the government's requests for personal information
Kakao first reviews the legality of such a request upon the government's request for personal information.
Based on the legal requirements, Kakao responds to the government requests in the following five steps:
- Judicial agencies, such as the prosecution and the police, shall submit necessary documents to Kakao.
- Document Validation
Kakao shall meticulously check legal requirements for the submitted documents (ex. Recipient, official seal, seals between pages, documentary requirements, identity verification of investigation officers, etc.)
If the above application fails to fulfill the requirements, Kakao shall send back a reply, including reasons for rejection.
If the above application fulfills the requirements, Kakao shall go through the procedures for processing documents.
Kakao stringently selects only the parts that can be provided under laws and internal policies to ensure the user's privacy, even if the received documents meet all requirements.
The person in charge who has been granted limited search authority shall encrypt the requested data so that no one other than the judicial investigator in charge can view such data.
- The person in charge shall thoroughly review how the documents have been processed.
- Reply and retention
Any information provided to judicial authorities among the requested data shall be destroyed in a way that cannot be immediately recovered once the purpose of the reply has been completed.
Q&A about Kakao Transparency Report
Please contact Kakao Customer Center for more details about the advice above.
What does Transparency Report stand for?
Transparency Report refers to a statistical report outlining the government's requests for personal information and corporate responses thereby.
The fact that companies transparently disclose how they respond to government's requests has great significance in terms of protecting user rights.
Kakao will continue to exert its utmost efforts to protect users' rights and disclose the results in the transparency report.
Why do you publish transparency report?
Upon any request from a judicial authority, Kakao shall properly respond to such requests in the due process based on the necessity for warrants and disclose related matters in the transparency report.
We are, as a member of our society, under the obligation to faithfully fulfill legal requirements.
More than that, we also believe that it is our responsibility to build trust with users by transparently disclosing related matters so that anyone can look up.
Kakao is committed to fulfilling its duty of mutual trust between the company and users by updating the transparency reports twice a year.
Kakao Transparency Report shows our firm determination to protect users' rights and our confidence that we stringently comply with due process to secure users' information.
Kakao will continue to respond to the government's requests in due process and share related matters with our users.
What does Transparency Report contain?
There is no fixed framework to compose a transparency report so that it may differ among companies. Mostly, a transparency report shares the status of the government's requests and the company's response.
Kakao Transparency Report contains status data on government requests for personal information and Kakao's response thereby.
We believe that our disclosure will be the cornerstone of counterbalancing public security and individual privacy in our society.
Is there any case where foreign governments or private organizations request the provision of information?
Kakao does not directly respond to such requests from a foreign government, judicial authority, or private institution.
They shall, if necessary, request cooperation from the Korean government and judicial authority.
Also, Kakao shall not deal with a request from private institutions that have not fulfilled procedural formality.
What do statistical figures mean (ex. the number of requests, the number of cases processed, the number of accounts)?
Kakao Transparency Report uses three types of statistical figures: the number of government requests, the number of cases processed, and the number of accounts.
The number of requests and the number of cases processed are based on the number of documents submitted by investigative agencies.
The number of requests means the number of documents requested by the government, whilst the number of cases processed refers to the number of documents provided upon the government's request.
The number of accounts means the combined numbers of accounts (ID and/or phone number) processed upon request and related accounts.
Why is there a difference between the number of requests and the number of cases processed?
Kakao responds to a request from judicial authority only if the documents meet all legal requirements.
If documents submitted by the government fail to meet the legal requirements, we do not provide any personal data.
That is when statistical difference may occur - the number of cases processed is less than the number of requests.
Is there any case that personal information is possibly provided to the outside without consent from the user?
Kakao shall, in principle, provide no personal information without consent from the user.
However, if a case falls under exceptions stipulated in the relevant laws, part of personal information may be subject to the provision.
Explicitly, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection, etc. set it as an exception if otherwise specified by other laws.
What are the legal grounds that government requests for users' personal information?
Kakao selectively responds to the government's request for the provision of personal information, only when it is subject to legal obligation.
The laws that provide the basis for reviewing the legitimacy of government requests are as follows:
(1) Protection of Communications Secrets Act (Communication-restricting measures and communication confirmation data)
- (Purpose of the law)
The purpose of the Protection of Communications Secrets Act is to protect communications secrets and further enhance the freedom of communications by limiting the scope of restrictions with respect to the secrecy and freedom of communications and conversations and making the due process of law mandatory.
- (Communication-restricting measures) The law prescribes that the communication-restricting measures shall be allowed only when there is a substantial reason to suspect that the following crimes are being planned or committed or have been committed and it is impracticable to prevent the commission of a crime, arrest the criminal, or collect the evidence.
- (Communication confirmation data) The law sets forth the following materials as communication confirmation data.
(a) The date of telecommunications by subscribers;
(b) The time that the telecommunications commence and end;
(c) The communications number of outgoing and incoming calls, etc. and the subscriber number of the other party;
(d) The frequency of use;
(e) The computer communications or the Internet log records about facts that the users have used telecommunications services;
(f) The data on tracing a location of information communications apparatus connected to the information communications networks;
(g) The data on tracing a location of connectors capable of confirming the location of information communications apparatus which the users of computer communications or the Internet use in order to connect to the information communications networks
- See Protection of Communications Secrets Act (in Korean)
(2) Criminal Procedure Act (Warrant of seizure and search)
- (Summary) The Criminal Procedure Act sets forth the procedures related to criminal investigations, prosecutions, trials, and execution of sentences (ex. Seizure and search).
- (Warrant of seizure and search) A court or an investigation agency may seize or search an article with a warrant of seizure and search issued by a judge in order to secure evidence in the course of investigation.
Seizure and search shall be specifically defined as follows:
Seizure: If necessary, a court may seize any articles thought to be used as evidence or liable for confiscation, only when such articles are deemed to be connected with the accused case.
Search: If necessary, a court may search the body of the criminal defendant, or articles, dwelling, or any other place of the defendant, only when they are deemed to be related with the accused case.
- See Criminal Procedure Act (in Korean)
(3) Telecommunications Business Act (Communication data)
- (Purpose of the law) The purpose of this Telecommunications Business Act is to contribute to the promotion of public welfare by encouraging sound development of the telecommunications business and ensuring convenience to the users of the telecommunications business through proper management of such business and efficient operation of telecommunications.
- (Legal ground for requesting communication data) According to the law, a telecommunication business operator may comply with a request for the perusal or provision of any data from a court or an investigation agency.
Currently, Kakao does not provide communication data pursuant to the Constitutional Court's decision (2010 Hun-Ma 439) that the government's request for communication data has a legal ground yet not mandatory.
- See Telecommunications Business Act (in Korean)
Is it possible to confirm if my information has been provided to the investigative agency?
Service providers shall not disclose or divulge the fact that the investigation agency has requested to provide information pursuant to the confidentiality obligations of the Protection of Communications Secrets Act.
According to the Protection of Communications Secrets Act, when a public prosecutor or a judicial police officer has executed confiscation, search, investigation or communication-restricting measures or has been provided with communication confirmation data, regarding telecommunications of which the transmission and reception had been completed, he/she shall be obliged to notify the object of such fact.
Any prosecutor or judicial police officer thereby shall, when he/she institutes a prosecution or takes a disposition not to institute any prosecution or indict (excluding any decision made to suspend any indictment), notify in writing the person subject to such disposition of the fact that the warrant is executed, the institution that executes such measures and the period thereof within 30 days.
Therefore, any information offered to an investigation agency can be confirmed by a competent prosecutor or judicial police officer.