Suicide and “Dog Poop Girl” Lead to Clash Between Google and South Korean Government

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cyber-bullying that led to the suicide of an actress and the fleeing of “dog poop girl” from her hometown provided impetus for a new Cyber Defamation Law in South Korea requiring that the real name of a user be published with any of the user’s uploads or posts.. This has led to tension between Google and the South Korean government over Google’s evasion of the country’s new Internet regulations. Google claims that the South Korean law violates its own policy of freedom of expression and the right to remain anonymous.

Actress Choi Jin-sil committed suicide on October 2, 2008. Reportedly, she was depressed over online rumors that claimed she had hassled actor Ahn Jae-hwan over a loan she had made to him, leading to his suicide less than a month before Choi’s.. The rumors suggested she was partially to blame in the actor’s suicide. In another case of cyber-bullying, a picture and the story of a young woman who had refused to clean up her dog’s droppings on the subway were posted online. The story spread quickly. She was soon identified and her personal information was released on the Internet, causing her to drop out of school and change residence. 
Google has opted to discontinue South Korea’s YouTube uploads and comments, rather than change its registration system to verify its users’ identities in compliance with the law. In addition, Google triggered alarm by informing South Koreans how they can circumvent the law, and post and upload anonymously by switching their country setting on YouTube accounts.
-Vivian Kim
Google Disables Uploads, Comments on YouTube Korea (by Martyn Williams, IDG News Service)
YouTube Korea Squelches Uploads, Comments (by Stephen Shankland, Cnet)


andrew 15 years ago
Furthermore, I wonder if Google knows that users of its 'Free' Internet service at Korean Starbuck's are required to enter their ID numbers in order to access it. What an invasive policy. I wonder what can be done about it though.
andrew 15 years ago
Also, I find it very ironic that most (if not all) of the referenced "Internet bullying" took place on Korean sites which already require users to register with their Personal ID numbers.
andrew 15 years ago
A couple of suicides which may or may not have anything to do with web posters seems to me an absolutely ridiculous premise for an Internet policy that disregards what in many countries is taken for granted as "basic human freedom."

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