The South Korean government vowed Thursday to toughen regulations against leaks of the nation’s key technologies, including artificial intelligence, chips and panels, amid growing concerns that Korea may lose industrial competitiveness to rivals without the proper protection of its core technologies.During a Thursday meeting presided by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, the government released a set of measures to prevent leaks of the nations’ industrial technologies.

The key aspect of the measures involves obligating companies with the nation’s core technologies to seek approval from the government when they are acquired by foreign companies — regardless of the government’s financial involvement in the technologies’ development.

Currently, only companies whose key technologies were developed on the back of government subsidies are required to report to the government when they are acquired by foreign companies.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy also said it would adopt punitive damage measures so that anyone who leaks the nation’s key technologies or confidential business information will have to compensate the damages — up to three times the actual damage. All economic gains would also be forfeited. A person held responsible for leaking the nation’s key technologies would also be sentenced to at least three years in prison. Currently, such a conviction does not come with a minimum prison sentence.

The stronger measure comes amid growing concerns that Korea may lose industrial competitiveness to its rivals, mainly China, if its core technologies are not protected.

There were around 150 attempts to leak industrial technologies overseas in the past five years, according to the Industry Committee under the National Assembly. Damage inflicted on Korean industry from the leaks is estimated to be around 50 trillion won ($44.3 billion) on an annual average, according to the National Intelligence Service.

Source: Korea to toughen rules on AI, chip technology leaks

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