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Internet Companies to Limit Government Censorship

The South Korean government is considering more ways to impose rules on Internet users, but some companies operating Web sites are resisting the heavy-handedness. From The Korea Times


By Kim Tong-hyung
Staff Reporter

The South Korean government is considering more ways to impose rules on Internet users, but some companies operating Web sites are resisting the heavy-handedness.

The Korea Internet Self-Governance Organization (KISO), an industry lobby of seven major Internet companies including NHN, Daum, SK Communications and Yahoo!Korea said its member companies will seek to prevent the government from having too much say in the filtering of Web content.

The companies will no longer take requests from government organizations to delete news articles or comments on message boards, KISO said.

Under a controversial law enforced last year, Internet companies are required to suspend published online articles for a minimum of 30 days if claims of fraud or slander are made.

During this period, the Korean Communications Standards Commission, the arbitration body, decides whether the temporarily deleted content should be reinstated or removed permanently.

In its recent announcement, KISO said its member companies will no longer accept the libel complaints filed by government bodies. However, individuals from the organizations can make complaints under their own names.

Critics have been calling the new government rules excessive, claiming legitimate online speech could be suppressed. Their concerns have been warranted in recent months, with anti-government rants and other thorny political commentary accounting for a large part in the growing list of deleted articles and blog postings.

In its definition of government organizations, KISO included central administrative bodies, the National Assembly, courts, the Constitutional Court, the National Election Commission and all of their sub-organizations.

It considers regional government organizations to be local governments, councils and public education committees.

“By clearly defining the boundaries of central government organizations and local government organizations, we believe that the Web portals will have a more consistent standard in controlling content posted by Internet users,” a KISO spokesman said.

The Lee Myung-bak administration has been considering new ways to monitor the Internet, introducing measures that include limiting online anonymity and enforcing better Web behaviors. Although denounced by critics, policymakers claim the new rules are necessary to curb cyber bullying.

thkim@koreatimes.co.kr

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2009/10/123_54144.html

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