South Korea's Internet firm Naver moves data centre from HK to SG amidst privacy concerns

South Korea’s Internet firm Naver, parent company of LINE, has moved its overseas data backup centres from Hong Kong to Singapore amidst privacy concerns in the Chinese territory. According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, Naver added that it has deleted all backup data saved at the centre in Hong Kong early this month and completed formatting the server. Naver also said that no user data had been leaked, and that there was no possibility of a third-party looking into personal data as they were “strictly coded”, Yonhap added.

The move comes shortly after concerns about leaks of personal information arose after China implemented a new security law in Hong Kong early this month. Often referred to as the Google of South Korea, the company saves user information at domestic data centres, including one in the eastern city of Chuncheon, and runs backup centers in foreign countries, Yonhap reported.

Meanwhile, Yonhap quoted Kim Young-bae of South Korea's ruling Democratic Party saying that Naver had saved sensitive personal information of Korean users at its server in Hong Kong. According to the news agency, he subsequently called for authorities' probe into Naver, claiming that the company has sent personal data including body sizes and family photos without users' consent to its unit in Hong Kong since 2016.

Separately, there have been many tech and social media giants who have started to review their presence in Hong Kong due to privacy concerns, as they believed they would be be affected as well. Companies such as Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, Twitter, Telegram and LinkedIn have all announced in early July that they had suspended processing law enforcement requests for user data. TikTok, which had reportedly attracted more than 100,000 users in Hong Kong, decided to exit Hong Kong after the establishment of the new national security law in the city. 

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