Tesco’s South Korean supermarket business Homeplus is likely to be the subject of a class action over alleged privacy breaches.
Lawyers for Homeplus customers allege the chain illegally gathered and sold customer information to third parties, including insurance companies.
According to reports in South Korean news media, 10 consumer groups linked with the Korea National Council of Consumer Organizations are signing up participants in a class action suit which will demand compensation to victims.
The data includes names, phone numbers, birth dates, details of family members – all collected in promotional registrations and competition entry forms.
“We hope this lawsuit serves as an opportunity to raise the alarm on Homeplus’ illegal acts and to root out unethical practices in the industry,” said KNCCO in a statement.
Homeplus has declined to comment in any detail as yet. “We will announce our official stance once they file the suit,” Homeplus spokesman Kang Jong-ho was quoted by the Korea Herald newspaper.
The groups added they were exploring the opportunity of taking further legal action against Tesco in the UK, in association with British consumer advocacy group Which?.
Inside Retail Asia has sought clarification on Which?’s participation, if any.
In February, Korean officials indicted six former and current Homeplus executives and two employees of an insurance company for trading information on an estimated 24 million customers for an estimated US$20.8 million.
The Korea Herald, meanwhile, reports investigations are underway against Lotte Mart and E-mart for similar alleged breaches of privacy laws, again related to information sold to insurance companies.