The Korea Herald


Surge in spam messages sparks calls for authorities' response

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : June 19, 2024 - 15:49

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Spam messages promoting stock investments. (The Korea Herald) Spam messages promoting stock investments. (The Korea Herald)

Spam text messages promoting stock investment information, gambling, shopping and loan services have surged this year, data shows, while authorities have struggled take appropriate measures.

According to data released by Rep. Hwang Jung-ah from the Democratic Party of Korea, obtained from the Korea Communications Commission, approximately 168 million text messages received via smartphones were identified as spam between January and May.

The five-month tally surpassed the figure for the corresponding period last year, when a steep rise was reported.

The number of spam messages in 2023, either reported by phone users or identified by the phone’s spam detection function, surged to 295 million, up 38.7 million in 2022 and 44.9 million in 2021.

According to the national telecommunications watchdog, last year’s surge is partly due to the increased convenience of spam detection that smartphones now boast. However, the exact cause behind the uptick in spam activities this year remains unexplained.

“Spam text messages encouraging stock investment have surged. A lot of personal information had been leaked for unidentified reasons,” Choi Jang-hyuk, vice chairperson of the Personal Information Protection Commission, said during a press briefing June 5.

In May, the state-run agency imposed a fine of 15.1 billion won ($10 million) on Kakao, operator of the nation’s largest messenger app, Kakaotalk, for the leakage of at least 65,000 users’ personal details from its open chat rooms.

Local civic group People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy has called for the Korea Communications Commission and the Personal Information Protection Commission to collaborate with investigative authorities to identify what is causing the increase in spam messages. Additionally, it also plans to file a formal request with the police for a police investigation.