I already mentioned the problems of online bullying happening in Korea (the (online) persecution of Daniel Lee, Korea’s top actress commits suicide amid rumors, Cyberviolence in Korea), and the government’s response which consisted in imposing a “real identity” system (update on Korea’s online identity system). Ars Technica is giving us an update, which is that the system will be.. abandoned!
The best argument against laws requiring websites to use “real name” policies is South Korea’s disastrous experiment with requiring websites to collect the real names of users who post content. Freedom House told the story in a recent report:
In 2007, the internet real-name registration system was expanded to apply to any website with more than 100,000 visitors per day. Users are required to verify their identities by submitting their Resident Registration Numbers (RRNs) when they wish to join and contribute to web portals and other major sites. As RRNs are assigned only to Korean citizens at birth, foreign nationals must individually contact webmasters to confirm their identities. This included the video-sharing website YouTube, but the site’s U.S.-based parent company, Google, refused to ask its Korean customers for their RRNs. Instead, it has blocked users from uploading content onto YouTube Korea. Users are able to bypass the restriction by changing their location setting to “worldwide.” Even the Korean presidential office maintains its YouTube channel in this way.
Trying to quell extremist views by preventing them from being expressed anonymously simply isn’t going to work. The Web is a big place; no government on Earth has the reach to completely eliminate anonymous forums from the Internet. Trying to suppress anonymous posting of extremist views just forces them underground, reinforcing extremists’ persecution complex and making them even more disconnected from mainstream political debates.
After a barrage of criticism, the South Korean government has finally announced plans to abandon the system. This recent decision came in the wake of a major security breach in which information about 35 million users was reportedly stolen from two popular websites.