Google to Remove Over 95,000 Korean IDs

In yet another example of how powerful the Google search engine is, the Korea Times is reporting that The Korean Ministry of Communication and Information has detected over 95,000 resident registration numbers that are obtainable on the Google search engine.

From the article —

The Ministry of Communication and Information said that it has detected 95,219 South Koreans’ resident registration numbers that are open for fraudulent use on Google, the world’s most widely used Internet search engine.

The number of possible victims swells to 903,665 when those whose ID numbers are partly exposed are included, the ministry said in a report, after conducting an online inspection last week.

Google will be asked to remove the leaked personal information and the whole cleaning process will take up to two months, the ministry said.

“The resident registration number is a very important piece of private information that should be protected by law. However, as Google is a foreign operation, there was no way to enforce the law to it,’’ the ministry’s official Oh Jin-ho said on the phone. “We invited Google’s Asia-Pacific representative (to meet with us) in June and explained the urgency of the matter. He gladly agreed to cooperate with us.’’

Oh said that most Korean Internet portals and search engines are now observing the government’s instructions on the privacy and protection of personal data such as the resident registration number.

The 13-digit registration number is widely used as the means for personal identification at banks, service companies, government offices and many Web sites in South Korea. As it is easily obtained by using Google, the stolen registration numbers were often used in creating false IDs in various forms of cyber crime.

Even the ID numbers of South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun and prime minister Han Myeong-sook had been freely circulated on the Internet until last month, when United Liberal Democrat lawmaker Ryu Geun-chan brought up the issue, saying that the president’s personal numbers had been used 416 times for online verification and 280 times for adult verification at x-rated Web sites, probably by someone other than the president himself.

“Right after Ryu came up with the issue, we sent an e-mail to Google to ask it to remove the president’s ID numbers,’’ said the ministry’s official Oh. “There was no other way but to send e-mails to Google every time we found someone’s personal information exposed on the service. But with the completion of the automatic detection program, it will be much easier from now,’’ he said.

As an extreme case, the ministry found that a 24-year-old citizen, identified as Lee, had his ID registration number exposed on 927 different Web pages.