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Unconditional Request to Provide Resident Registration Number in Tariff Counseling Constitutes Human Rights Abuse
Date : 2007.05.30 00:00:00 Hits : 1246
In October 2006, a complainant only known as Lee (30-year-old female) attempted to use the telephone counseling service of the Customs Call Center of the Korea Customs Service. In the process, she was requested to enter her 13-digit resident registration number. Lee filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK), saying that " It is unreasonable to require personal information including one" s resident registration number for services that do not require personal identification, unlike financial transactions." In response, the NHRCK recommended that the Commissioner of the Korea Customs Service allows use of telephone counseling services of the Customs Call Center without requiring users to provide their resident registration numbers.

Concerning the details of the complaint, the Korea Customs Service said that it offers telephone counseling services to improve access to counseling for individuals who have limited access to expert advice and that guidance mostly pertains to published applicable laws or procedures related to imports and exports. It also contended that requiring entry of resident registration numbers prevents specific persons including trade brokers from monopolizing the telephone counseling services and helps improve the quality of counseling by permitting collection and analysis of data on inquiry types and other important details of transactions. It added that its request to enter resident registration numbers was meant to improve the services overall.

Based on a through investigation, the NHRCK found that the Customs Call Center without exception requests users to provide resident registration numbers when using the call services regardless of whether or not inquiry into electronically registered information was necessary and that it keeps users who do not enter their resident registration numbers from connecting to counselors and receiving ordinary guidance. Thus, the NHRCK determined that the Customs Call Center was requesting excessive personal information.

Based on its judgment that forcing the complainant to enter her resident registration number to receive telephone counseling irrespective of the nature of her needs was in breach of the right guaranteed under Article 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea (secrecy and freedom of privacy), the NHRCK recommended that the Commissioner of the Korea Customs Service allow users to access counseling services without having to provide their resident registration numbers.

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