Number of Illegal Cyber Detective Agencies Makes a Rapid Increase Due to Lack of Regulations

Oct 12, 2017

One’s privacy is severely getting damaged due to intrusion of personal information and location information. During a span of three years and eight months, police in South Korea uncovered more than 3,000 cases of intrusion. It is urgent for South Korean Government to prepare countermeasures as number of cyber detective agencies that collect, provide, and buy and sell personal information and location information illegally based on online portal sites is making a sudden increase.
According to information Song Hee-kyung, who is a member of Liberty Korea Party and under National Assembly’s Science, ICT, Broadcasting, and Communications Committee, obtained from National Police Agency, there were 3,242 cases of intrusion between 2014 and August of 2017. There were 635, 296, and 2,1215 cases in 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively and there had been 186 cases in 2017 until August. In 2016, which is the year followed by abolishment of adultery laws, number of cases increased by close to ten times compared to 2015.
National Police Agency announced that it will impose criminal charges on both operators and clients of ‘detective agency’ where intrusion of personal information and location information is frequent. As number of cyber detective agencies that are active on online portal sites without having actual stores increased recently, number of incidences where one’s personal information and location information damaged is increasing consistently.
Cyber detective agencies that illegally collect personal information are openly advertising themselves through portal sites such as Naver, Daum, and Google. When a keyword ‘cyber detective agency’ is entered on a portal site, one can find significant number of advertisements. There are phrases on these advertisements saying that they will collect evidences regarding particular companies and families. “Cyber detective agencies are advertising themselves on portal sites without any regulations.” said Song Hee-kyung. “Offline detective agencies have become cyber detective agencies.”
There are variety of ways that cyber detective agencies use to invade one’s personal information and location information. Not only do they use tracking devices but they also hack into servers of mobile network providers and extract location information from cellphones. This information is then provided to their clients after receiving money from them. Detective agencies also use addresses that they illegally obtained from drivers of parcel companies that they work with.
Depending on requests from clients, detective agencies illegally collect information on cars, one’s departure and arrival, hospital records, and wealth. According to related industries, there are about 3,000 detective agencies in South Korea and many of them are cyber detective agencies. Most of the requests are for tracking one’s spouse due to a possibility of an affair.
As of now, National Police Agency and related departments are at a state where they cannot make any visible actions and crackdowns on these detective agencies. In fact, they cannot even figure out cyber detective agencies that have quickly spread through online.
“We need strict crackdowns and restrictions on cyber detective agencies that illegally look at one’s privacy and personal information by abusing IT.” said Song Hee-kyung. “We need to enforce regulations on portal sites that are main places for cyber detective agencies to carry out their illegal acts in order to prevent intrusions that occur online and offline.”
On the other hand, National Police Agency decided the duration between beginning of September and end of October to be a special crackdown period for illegal intrusion activities on personal information and is focusing on cracking down any illegal activities that collect, provide, and sell and buy personal information.
Staff Reporter Shin, Hyekwon | hkshin@etnews.com

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