IT sector fears fallout from orders to reveal company secrets
[THE INVESTOR] IT components makers in Korea expressed concerns over the Labor Ministry’s order calling on tech giant Samsung Electronics to make its environmental assessment report public.
The manufacturers say this could end up exposing all of the firm’s operational secrets, and along with it, their secrets as well. “The report, if made public, could reveal what the industry calls recipe, a combination of chemicals used in the manufacturing processes,” an official from a local semiconductor company told The Investor.
“If such information falls into the hands of rivals, including those in China, the entire industry could possibly lose its edge,” he added, declining to be identified for fear of being blackballed by the government.
The ministry recently requested Samsung Electronics and its display-making subsidiary Samsung Display to disclose a report concerning their factories as part of its efforts to check the working conditions at the manufacturing lines.
A lower court had ruled in favor of Samsung in 2014, but a district court overturned the ruling in early February this year, saying that the environmental assessment report does not contain crucial industrial technologies.
Samsung has filed an administrative suit in the Supreme Court to cancel the earlier ruling, while asking the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy to review if the report carries information on crucial industrial technologies that need to be protected from disclosure.
The highest court’s decision will likely affect other manufacturing plants run by display and chipmakers as well as petrochemical firms, including Samsung SDI, LG Innotek, LG Chem, and SK Innovation, according to industry sources.
“The manufacturers will also be exposed to the risk of losing crucial know-hows to their foreign rivals when they are required to disclose the report,” said an official from a display firm.
The ministry’s order came after civic groups and former Samsung workers, who have been diagnosed with diseases such as leukemia and cancer after working at the manufacturing lines, sued Samsung to reveal the report that include specific manufacturing details.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)