The search and seizure done at MBC today based on the suspicions of leaking the personal information of minister Han Dong-hoon is an abuse of the Personal Information Protection Act.
The intent of the Personal Information Protection Act is to protect individuals from the invasions of privacy committed by the government or corporations. Powerful figures such as Minister of Justice using the law to intimidate the press is against the purpose of the law. This abuse is done by intentional misinterpretation of the exclusion clauses of the Act.
Article 58 of the Personal Information Protection Act protects the freedom of press by excluding personal information collected or used for reporting by the press from the scope of most of the articles of the Act. Article 58 should not be interpreted restrictively to exclude an individual reporter from such protection. Also, interpreting such reporting as an activity “of divulging personal information acquired in the course of business, or providing it for any third party’s use without authority” condemned under Article 59 would enable criminalizing all acts of journalism.
We should keep a close watch on the possible abuse of Article 59 of the Personal Information Protection Act.