South Korean prez turns on the internet
Blame the messenger
South Korean president Lee Myung-bek is seeking to crack down on the internet community which has helped intensify and focus criticism of his unpopular government, by introducing a Cyber Defamation Law.
Korea's online community has railed against Myung-bek over such issues as renewed imports of US beef, the sovereignty of the Dokdo islands, criminal allegations against the president's family and the appointment of a presidential supporter to run a leading broadcasting company.
With the introduction of the law, intended to bring online publishing in line with its paper-based rival, the Korean Communications Commission would get the power to suspend sites which overstep the mark. The government wants action to stop "infodemics" - false stories which spread rapidly via websites and blogs.
Two examples, related to renewals of US beef imports, were fears that Koreans had a genetic propensity to develop mad cow disease, and that a beef by-product used in nappies also put Korean babies at risk of the disease.
The world's most wired nation has created a more liberal online media than the very traditional and conservative mainstream press. Korean newspapers, fighting falling circulation, are supporting calls for action.
The law will also force publishers to get real name registrations from anyone who wishes to comment on a story or in a forum. KCC is also threatening to take action against cyber-bullying.
Korean journalists have criticised the proposals as a threat to free speech. Six Korean portals and search engines have teamed up to oppose the proposed law. ®
Will these guys be the first to go?
If so it would be a pity, although they haven't updated in a while.
But I do agree entirely with your comments on what the internet is all about and the only reason for the rise of the wikipidiots!
""The government wants action to stop "infodemics" - false stories which spread rapidly via websites and blogs." and what about TV, radio and newspapers?
Almost sounds like a good idea until you realise that 99% of our medias output would be stopped by this type of restriction."
But that 99% figure doesn't hold true in Korea. When I was there last from December 2006 to March of this year, one of the things I most enjoyed was the fact that newspapers (English editions of the local dailies) were extremely good. They were well written (by Koreans!) and generally followed the tried and true (but now sadly lacking in UK, US & Cdn publications) format of:
- X, the CEO of Y Co. Ltd. was arrested late yesterday for (insert misdemeanour of choice).
- The prosecutor said "(details of whatever)" and that he felt sure that the courts would agree.
- When interviewed by our man on the scene, a spokesman for Y Co. said that there were aspects of the case (aspects A, B & C) that the prosecution had failed to appreciate and that "When they are explained in court we are confident that our CEO will be completely exonerated."
- The trial is expected to start next ***.
They still put forth the simple facts and one can almost read, as though it was tacked on to the end of the piece, "Those are the facts reader, make of them what you will."
And that's all I ever wanted (and am now becoming desperate for!) from a newspaper or other media.
They do have editorial pages which are properly used to express opinions, but the local news section of the paper is not contaminated by the snide and scarcely hidden opinions of the journalist who wrote the article. It was a delightfully refreshing experience - which I miss!
(When I want a journalist's opinion, I'll tell him what it is!)