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GS Caltex Faces Class Action Suit over S. Korea's Largest Data Leak
Customer data leaking

GS Caltex Co., South Korea's second-largest oil refiner, faced a class action suit brought by 500 clients seeking compensation for a recent leak of their private data, their representative said on Sept. 10.

The plaintiffs represent a fraction of some 11 million people whose personal information was leaked by the refiner's employees in the country's largest ever data leak case. The suit portends the likelihood of others following in its wake.

"GS Caltex, which is responsible for protecting clients' personal information, failed to prevent the leak which put so many individual clients at risk," the plaintiffs said in a court document submitted to the Seoul Central District Court and released by their representative, Lee In-cheol.

The suit charges GS Caltex with negligence and seeks 1 million won (US$919) in compensation for each client , or 500 million won in total.

On Sunday, police arrested three people — including an employee of a GS Caltex call center subsidiary — for stealing the refiner's data through a scheme that involved tipping off local media about the discovery of GS Caltex's data in a CD and a DVD found among heaps of rubbish.

The suspects waited for clients to raise a class action suit over the leak, even approaching lawyers with offers to share proceeds from the envisioned suit.

The men were arrested not long after, as police focused their investigation on company insiders with access to the data, given the fact that there was no trace of hacking.

The leaked data of clients included high-profile figures such as the chief of the National Police Agency and the National Assembly speaker. Customers are asked to provide their personal information when making oil mileage cards at gas stations.

The data leak has severely hurt the company image of GS Caltex, with the country still reeling from a series of large-scale information leaks at technology firms earlier this year.

Hanarotelecom Inc., a fixed-line operator, faced a class-action lawsuit after its former chief was found to have sold the private information of 6 million users to telemarketers.

Internet Auction Co., the local unit of U.S. online auction house eBay Inc., came under fire for the theft of 10.8 million users' information by a hacker.

Mobile carrier LG Telecom Co. was found to have had its subscribers' information exposed by a hacker.






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