Lessons Learned from South Korea’s real-name verification system

In 2002, Korean democracy made headlines around the world when an unknown entrepreuneur launched the world’s first citizen journalism web site OhMyNews, which helped deliver the highest chair in the country to the underdog liberal candidate Roh Moo-hyun.  Roh won the extremely contested election with just half a million votes, through an active online campaign supported and driven by an idealistic and net-savvy youth.  

Since then, the Korean government has had an extremely hands-on approach to governing online expression.  South Korean bureaucracy dealing with controlling online discourse has ballooned since 2003.  After several permutations, South Korea currently has two agencies that monitor online activity during elections, the Internet Election News Deliberation Commission (IENDC) that oversees online press, and the Cyber Censorship Team (CCT), which monitors user-generated content and non-media web sites.  The agencies have the right to remove content at their discretion.  During the 2007 elections, the two agencies removed over 100,000 blog posts, comments, articles and 65,000 videos online.

In 2003, the conservative Grand National Party (GNP) struck back from losing the presidential race by enacting a new law which required online users to verify their real identities before posting comments on election-related web sites.  The legislation’s stated goals were to to promote responsible online discourse and to protect the privacy of candidates, and it has accomplished its purpose to a limited extent.  Yet the greater underlying political motive is clear to see — the conservative party that relies on older, less internet-savvy Koreans wanted to limit the influence of online media on election results.  In 2007, an election year, the proliferation of anonymous online slander was the stated cause for extending the real-name system to web sites with over 300,000 daily visits

For full article see Korea IT Times.

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