The world's most connected country – South Korea, where 97% of the population has broadband Internet access – is conducting an experiment in Internet control that the world (especially the US) might do well to watch. I say "especially the US" because we're having a discussion here (at the Internet Safety & Technology Task Force) about online verification of minors' ages (see this about that). The Guardian reports that Seoul is trying to "curb online anonymity and debate." New legislation, some of which is "due to pass" next month would require all forum and chatroom users to make verifiable real-name registrations (South Koreans have national ID cards). The legislation would also make all news sites subject to the same restrictions as newspapers and broadcast media, answerable to the Korean Communications Standards Commission regulatory body, and give the Commission "powers to suspend the publication of articles accused of being fraudulent or slanderous, for a minimum of 30 days. During this period the commission will then decide if an article that has been temporarily deleted or flagged should be removed permanently." The Guardian suggests that includes blog posts, which is a problem: "Seoul's previous experience with such censorship suggest that unless the government hires thousands more people to staff the commission, which is already behind in processing some 2,000 internet-related objections, just addressing the initial complaints will be unworkable, untenable and unenforceable." The other problem is, the Korean government would also have to block all sites based overseas because it couldn't make them card Koreans at their virtual doors. Here's more from the Korea Times.
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