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South Korea Cracks Down on Overseas Shopping Giants

 |  March 7, 2024

In response to a significant surge in South Korean consumers using Chinese e-commerce platforms like AliExpress and Temu, South Korea’s personal data protection watchdog has initiated an investigation into the data practices of major overseas shopping platforms, reported Reuters.

The Personal Information Protection Commission announced on Thursday that it has been closely scrutinizing overseas e-commerce platforms since last month, spurred by questions raised during a parliamentary audit last year. Platforms such as AliExpress and Temu, operated by PDD Holdings, have come under particular scrutiny for their data handling procedures.

The commission stated that it is assessing the adequacy of these platforms’ personal information processing policies, the handling of overseas data transfers, and the implementation of safety measures. It emphasized that any violations of South Korean law would result in appropriate action being taken.

This announcement follows a recent move by South Korea’s antitrust regulator, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), which dispatched inspectors to the office of AliExpress’s South Korean unit. The purpose of the inspection, according to reports from Yonhap news agency, was to probe consumer protection practices. Neither the FTC nor the platforms in question, Alibaba’s AliExpress and Temu, responded immediately to requests for comment on these developments.

Statistics Korea data revealed a staggering 121% year-on-year increase in South Koreans’ e-commerce purchases from China in 2023, amounting to 3.3 trillion won ($2.48 billion). This surge accounted for nearly half of the country’s total overseas e-commerce purchases.

AliExpress, which established services in South Korea in 2018, has been actively investing in expanding its presence in the country. According to Daishin Securities analyst Lee Jee-eun, the platform injected approximately 100 billion won into South Korea in 2023 with the aim of broadening its footprint.

As South Korea grapples with the ramifications of its citizens’ growing reliance on overseas e-commerce platforms, authorities are intensifying efforts to ensure robust data protection measures and consumer safeguards are in place.

Source: Reuters