This article in the Korea Times reports that several large online presences in Korea have stopped asking for users’ resident registration numbers when subscribing to their sites. They began to ask in 2007 as a means of ensuring compliance with the government’s requirement that users provide their real names. However, the government had no means to enforce that rule on foreign websites, and it has led to instances of identity theft.
Nexon recently had the private data of 13 million users hacked. Nate and Cyworld, its sister social networking service, had 35 million users’ details compromised after being hacked. After a series of private information leaks at large businesses like Nate, Nexon, Auction, and Hyundai Capital, now virtually all the resident registration numbers of Koreans are available.
As they hold the key to entering Internet sites, criminals can collect almost anyone’s details by collecting information from two or three websites, acquiring names, phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, office addresses, shopping records, bank account numbers and even blood types.
Some victims submitted a petition to the court last month, requesting they be allowed to change their registration number. “We are on the verge of suffering from more damage as we are forced to continuously use our leaked registration numbers with no countermeasures being taken so far,” the complainants said in their suit.
The Korea Communications Commission is now planning regulation preventing resident numbers from being held online.