South Korean Government to Push for Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System Again

Oct 23, 2019

South Korean Government is planning to push for mandatory identification disclosure on the internet again as it has emerged as one of countermeasures to eradicate ‘malicious comments’ on the internet. It will be led by the National Assembly and supported by South Korean Government and it is unclear what kind of effects it may have. However, some say that this measure will clearly cause a social controversy and ‘reverse discrimination’.
Chairman Han Sang-hyeok of Korea Communications Commission said during an audit of government offices that was held this month that he is looking into legislation of Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System and that he would actively support the system if a bill is issued.
Fact that the National Assembly and South Korean Government are actively trying to introduce the system is relevant to recent public opinions. A petition regarding disclosing one’s identification on the internet has received a consent from more than 20,000 people so far.
Park Tae-chool who is a member of Liberty Korea Party and others are currently preparing a bill for ‘Semi-Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System’ that will expose one’s ID and IP on the internet.
◊Most of South Korean internet service providers already based on real-name system
Major search engines in South Korea are implementing policies that will obey Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System. Naver, Kakao, and Google go through an authentication procedure through Smartphone during a membership process. These services only allow users who are logged in to write comments and posts. Only social network services (SNS) that have an authentication step to their log-in accounts are available in South Korea.
Although these services do not require one’s resident registration number, they have implemented a measure that will distinguish one’s identification even during a membership process. If one’s information is not stolen, most of residents in South Korea use their real names when they are active on major search engines. Facebook and Instagram are SNS that basically operate on one’s real name.

South Korean Government to Push for Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System Again

Significant number of major communities use I-PIN, which is an alternative to resident registration number, and basically require their users to use their services under real name. As a result, an argument that says that there are too many malicious comments due to anonymous-based services does not have enough grounds.
“If this system is legalized, other minor services that do not have authentication devices will be forced to verify one’s identity.” said a representative for the internet industry. “If the system does not require one’s actual name to be exposed when he or she is writing a post, it will not bring much change to major search engines and services that are used by residents in South Korea.”
Compared to possible effects of this system, possible side-effects are very clear. When South Korean Government implemented this system in 2007, YouTube prevented residents in South Korea from uploading videos and leaving comments. There is a high chance that users in addition to enterprises will be discriminated due to this system. This system was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012. Even if South Korean Government pushes for similar law, there is a high chance that the corresponding law will stir a controversy yet again.
◊Different alternatives raised instead of Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System
Rather than Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System that clearly has side-effects, some suggest that legislating ‘Comprehensive Discrimination Prohibition Act’ and raising the level of punishment and strengthening campaigns such as internet literacy education will be more effective.
“Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System already experienced its limitation as it was implemented once before.” said Professor Sung Dong-kyu of Chung-Ang University’s Media Communication Department. “South Korean Government needs to find a new year considering the fact that internet use in South Korea is very developed and that internet issue deeply collides with political issues.”
Discrimination Prohibition Act prohibits revolting expressions and unreasonable discrimination. Although there were three attempts in 2007, 2010, and 2012 to legislate this act, all attempts fell through because some religious groups were concerned that their opinion on ‘opposition towards homosexuality’ would be punished.
Expansion of ‘literacy’ education that focuses on improvement of internet culture is also seen as a medium and long-term alternative. Ministry of Education announced its plan to support enrichment of media education by schools in July in order to create a culture where media is produced and used more responsibly.
“We need additional measures as damage from abusing internet and media does not discriminate one’s position.” said Professor Sung. “It will be the most effective to increase execution power and level of punishment within current laws while considering general trends from the world.”
Staff Reporter Kim, Siso | siso@etnews.com

■Comparison between Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System, Discrimination Prohibition Act, and media literacy education
▲Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System ∆Possible negative variables: History of being labeled unconstitutional, discrimination for users and enterprises in South Korea, low possibility of reducing malicious comments, violation of freedom of speech ∆Possible positive effects: Preparation of clear standard for punishment through improvement in legislation
▲Discrimination Prohibition Act ∆Possible negative variables: Possibility of abuse ∆Possible positive effects: Preparation of grounds to strongly punish revolting expressions
▲Internet/media literacy education ∆Possible negative variables: Requires a large budget ∆Possible positive effects: Fundamental solution for malicious comments
<■Comparison between Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System, Discrimination Prohibition Act, and media literacy education ▲Mandatory Identification Disclosure on the Internet System ∆Possible negative variables: History of being labeled unconstitutional, discrimination for users and enterprises in South Korea, low possibility of reducing malicious comments, violation of freedom of speech ∆Possible positive effects: Preparation of clear standard for punishment through improvement in legislation ▲Discrimination Prohibition Act ∆Possible negative variables: Possibility of abuse ∆Possible positive effects: Preparation of grounds to strongly punish revolting expressions ▲Internet/media literacy education ∆Possible negative variables: Requires a large budget ∆Possible positive effects: Fundamental solution for malicious comments >

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