South Korea’s semiconductor giants will hand over data to the US by next Monday (November 8) to the extent it does not violate non-disclosure agreements with the firms’ customers.
The decision to partially comply with US demands are aimed at minimising the exposure of sensitive information, according to South Korea’s Hankyoreh News.
The South Korean government has acted as a mediator between its domestic tech firms and the US government since Washington first made the request for information in September. Seoul is reportedly confident the firms will not disclose so much data as to leak confidential information.
“Companies are voluntarily honoring [the US request] so no violation of domestic law such as the Trade Secret Protection Act will occur,” Choi Woo-seok, a senior official at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, told Hankyoreh. “The understanding is that most information that could pose problems in contracts with customers will not be submitted.”
Among the most sensitive information being requested are the lists of major customers as well as the output volume of firms. Typically this data is kept top secret and not disclosed to the public, per Hankyoreh.
Comments by Samsung Electronics last month reveal the company is exercising caution in its approach to the handover. “We are carefully preparing [for the US request for information], taking into account a number of factors,” vice Chair Kim Ki-nam said at a press gathering at the Korea Electronics Show in Seoul.
Taiwan’s own Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC) has had trouble deciding how to respond to the unprecedented requests too. On September 30, TSMC reassured worried clients that it would not reveal their information to the US government. Last month though, the company backpedaled and announced it will indeed provide the data requested by the US by the deadline next Monday (November 8).