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We Will Resist Government Censorship of the Internet

No to the Internet Contents Rating System! We demand the resignation of the Secretary of the Ministry of Information & Communication

Source  :  Jinbonet

Under the slogan, "No to the Internet Contents Rating System! We demand the resignation of the Secretary of the Ministry of Information & Communication," a coalition of activists, students, teachers, journalists, artists, and union leaders staged a sixty-day hunger strike that ended on December 20th.


Despite below-zero degree weather, we continued the struggle. Our reason--on November 1, the MIC and the Internet & Communication Ethics Committee (ICEC) forcibly implemented the Internet Contents Rating System. All websites are now assigned a grade according to a ICEC-formulated criteria on "harmful content" for minors. This grade leaves an electronic signature on the webpage.


The Korean government originally explained that this system would be applied only to commercial sites. But this was not the case. A gay&lesbian website called X-zone was recently warned, If the website is not classified and coded by the electronic grading mark, it will be deemed a criminal act subject to punishment."


Hunger strike participants and many internet-users have insisted that the Internet Contents Rating System is not a system of protection for minors as the government says it is, but in fact its real intent is to allow for greater government censorship and control of the internet.


The most dangerous factor is the ICEC. It can unilaterally decide what content is "harmful" for minors. Other committees for regulating media, such as the Korean Media Rating Board, the Korean Publication Ethics Commission, and the Korean Broadcasting Commission have been democratized. On the other hand, the ICEC has far-reaching authoritative powers.


They created and distributed a database of over 108,000 websites designated as "indecent." They shut down the I no school community website, arguing that a site advocating for dropping-out of school is extremely dangerous for other students.


ICEC has maintained that it is a non-governmental committee. However, they report all affairs to the MIC secretary. In addition, even if the recommendation by the ICEC is ignored by a website, internet service can be blocked by the direct order of the secretary. In this light, is there anyone who can disobey a "request" from the ICEC?


The Internet Contents Rating System is the newest weapon for the government to censor material on the internet. But far from listening to our voices, the MIC and the ICEC have asserted that social-justice groups have distorted the true nature of the system (http://www.safenet.ne.kr).


We reiterate that our hunger strike was not against the idea of a system that evaluates content on the internet for its negative effect on children, but its enforcement by the Korean government. Last year's national assembly was also opposed to the system, but their decision was ignored by the government. We then initiated our struggle in order to stop this deceptive system.


Again, this Internet Contents Rating System, which was crafted by the MIC and the ICEC without consultation by the public, does not protect minors, but strengthents internet censorship by national authorities. This is nothing more than the National Security Law (NSL) applied to the modern information & communication era, violating the right to freely access information and the freedom of expression.


Today, we end the sixy days hunger strike. We will begin a new struggle against internet content regulation. We will make a wider solidarity link with civic and social groups, and fight with a stronger resolve.


Until the day of abolishing the internet contents rating system and dissolving the ICEC, our struggle will be continued.


December 20, 2001
Korean Progressive Network (Jinbonet
2001 / -1 / 2-
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