It is also one of the few developed countries that block pornography and material considered harmful to minors as they are illegal by law. However, this law is very loosely applied, with many pornography websites and nudity content still freely accessible. It also does not apply to social media websites, which is a common source of legal pornography in South Korea.
Throughout the internet age, South Korean government's Internet censorship policies have been transformed dramatically. According to Michael Breen , censorship in South Korea is rooted in the South Korean government's historical tendency to see themselves as "the benevolent parent of the masses". However, anonymity on the internet has undermined the system of Korean honorifics and social hierarchies, making it easier for South Koreans to subject political leaders to "humiliation". In the first period, from to , the government passed the Telecommunications Business Act TBA , which was the first internet censorship law in the world.
The ICEC pursued criminal prosecutions of those who made unlawful statements and blocked several foreign websites. In the second period, from to , the government passed a revision of the TBA legislation. During this time, there was a political drive to increase extensive internet censorship, in part because of a large number of cases of suicide due to online rumors. In , over , incidents of cyberbullying were reported. The third period started in , when the presidential election of President Lee Myung-bak inaugurated major reforms of broadcast censorship.
The reason for the new law was to combat cyberbullying in South Korea. South Korea's government maintains a broad-ranging approach toward the regulation of specific online content and imposes a substantial level of censorship on election-related discourse and on a large number of websites that the government deems subversive or socially harmful. The Korean Government defended themselves by stating that the Korea Communications Standards Commission was an independent commission unrelated to them whatsoever, a claim which turned out to be false, as most members of the Commission were appointed by the president, in this case President Moon Jae-in.
KISCOM censors the Internet through orders to internet service providers to block access to "subversive communication", "materials harmful to minors", "cyber defamation", "sexual violence", "cyber stalking", and "pornography and nudity".
Freedom to criticize government leaders, policies, and the military is limited to the extent that it "endangers national security" or is considered by censors to be "cyber defamation". The government has deleted the Twitter account of a user who cursed the president, and a judge who wrote critically about the President's Internet censorship policies was fired.
In , numerous bloggers were censored and their posts deleted by police for expressing criticism of, or even support for, presidential candidates. This even led to some bloggers being arrested by the police. This applies to all users who add any publicly viewable content. For example, to post a comment on a news article, a user registration and citizen identity number verification is required.
For foreigners who do not have such numbers, a copy of passport must be faxed and verified. Although this law was initially met with public outcry, as of , most of the major portals, including Daum, Naver, Nate, and Yahoo Korea, enforce such verification before the user can post any material that is publicly viewable. South Korea has banned at least 65 sites considered sympathetic to North Korea through the use of IP blocking. Critics say that the only practical way of blocking a webpage is by denying its IP address , and since many of the North Korean sites are hosted on large servers together with hundreds of other sites, the number of real blocked pages increases significantly.
Estimates are that over 3, additional webpages are rendered inaccessible. In , 5 South Koreans were arrested for distributing pro-North material online. In January , a South Korean man was arrested for praising North Korea through social networking sites. In January , a South Korean freedom-of-speech activist was arrested for reblogging a post from a North Korean Twitter account. South Korean president Lee Myung-bak 's policies included cracking down on pro-North Korean comments on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter.
He was sentenced to one year in prison. Since , attempts by anybody to access "indecent Internet sites" featuring unrated games, pornography, gambling, etc. Search engines are required to verify age for some keywords deemed inappropriate for minors. For such keywords, age verification using a national identity number is required. For foreigners, a copy of their passport must be faxed for age verification. As of , practically all large search engine companies in South Korea, including foreign-owned companies e.
Korea , have complied with this legislation. On December 21, , the Korea Communications Commission announced that it planned to create guidelines about monitoring Internet content in case of a tense political situation, such as automatically deleting any online anti-government message.
The modification of the copyright law of South Korea introducing the three strikes policy has generated criticism, including regarding Internet freedoms and censorship. On September 6, , the Electronic Frontier Foundation criticized the Korea Communications Standards Commission for proposing censorship and restriction on the blog of an Internet free speech activist, Dr.
Gyeong-sin Park. Korean officials' rhetoric about censored material, including that it is "subversive", "illegal", "harmful" or related to "pornography and nudity", has been noted as similar to that of their Chinese counterparts. Furthermore, certain browser applications integrate IP block resistance.
South Korean conservative media outlets loyal to the Lee Myung-bak government are alleged of advocating further Internet censorship, because the Internet is the main source of information for progressive South Korean youths.
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Archived from the original on Retrieved It's South Korea". The New York Times. Ban on Improper Communication on the Internet. Why South Korea is really an internet dinosaur. Asian Survey. JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 17 December The Huffington Post. Kwang-tae Kim AP. Associated Press. Retrieved 4 October London: Financial Times. Retrieved 2 April Korean man indicted for pro-Pyongyang postings on Internet, Twitter".
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