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May. 26  2018
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We Will Not Obey the Internet Real Name Law

The Internet Real Name Law, which was passed at the plenary session of Parliament on March 9, 2004, requires Internet media and press websites to verify all names and identification numbers of authors who post messages on bulletin boards or chat rooms regarding elections.

Source  :  Jinbonet


Lots of civil society entities including press and human rights organizations are showing strong and united resistance against the recently passed Internet Real Name Law as We refuse to comply becomes their mantra.

The Internet Real Name Law, which was passed at the plenary session of Parliament on March 9, 2004, requires Internet media and press websites to verify all names and identification numbers of authors who post messages on bulletin boards or chat rooms regarding elections. If not complied with, a penalty of 10 million won can be incurred. The Section 5, Part 8 of Election law, defines the Internet press group as whoever reports or provides articles which are gathered, edited and written for the purpose of reporting, commenting and disseminating the public opinion regarding political, economical, social, cultural and current affairs through the Internet, or who manages and controls websites where such articles are displayed, or who manages and controls websites which serve a similar press group purpose.

Therefore, in fact, the Internet Real Name Law can be applied to personal websites which contain materials concerning political matters as well as the websites of civil society organizations. Resistance from civil society organizations against the Internet Real Name Law was immediately mounted. On March 10th, media, civil society and human rights organizations including Korean Progressive Network (Jinbonet), Sarangbang, Peoples Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, and the Korean Internet Journalists Association held a press conference under the title of We will not obey the Internet real name law.

Civil society organizations protests against the Internet Real Name Law emphasize the unconstitutionality and violation of freedom of expression this new Election law creates. Moreover, Parliament passed the Internet Real Name Law at the general meeting, ignoring opposition from many civic social organisations as well as public opinion. Especially troubling was the use of a national identification number for all Koreans. To select and check this kind of ID number on the internet means a unique surveillance specifically to monitor internet activities. This is a severe infringement of the people's right to privacy.

Lee Hoon, Vice-President of Association of Internet Newspapers, stressed they would refuse to obey the Internet Real Name Law. Additionally, they would request an immediate repeal of the law. He also stated they would not participate in any execution procedures which would be undertaken. Lee Jun Hee, Executive Director of Korean Internet Journalists Association, also asserted that March 9, 2004 -- the date when the Internet Real Name Law was passed -- would be remembered as a day when corrupt politicians trampled upon the freedom of press and expression of the Internet press and the citizens of Korea.

The legality of this law is questionable since 159 organizations including human rights, academic and press organizations as well as civil society organizations have refused to obey the Internet real name law. Portal websites such as Media Daum(http://media.daum.net) are also participating in the disobedience declaration.

After the press conference, civil society organizations held a meeting to work out countermeasures against the Internet Real Name Law. Planed civil disobedience activities include refusal of real name checking system installation, the Internet Real Name Law disobedience campaign, and a campaign for the protection of personal identification numbers, in order to protect people from and challenge any disruption caused by any attempted enforcement of the Internet Real Name Law.

Furthermore, a petition submitting to the laws unconstitutionality has been filed with the constitutional court requesting a review. Since it is prior censorship which is prohibited by the constitution, and it also restricts freedom of expression of the public regarding political matters, it is deemed unconstitutional. The following was stressed:

a. Internet realname law fundamentally prohibits anonymity of expression, which can be considered prior censorship. This infringes the freedom of expression which is guaranteed by Constitution Article 21. This law also restricts the discussion and opinions from net citizens on the internet media, which also infringes freedom of the press.

b. Internet Real Name law will use the national ID database to verify the Real Name. This infringes people's right to privacy which is guaranteed by Constitution Article 17. Moreover, anyone who is not subscribed to the national ID database, cannot upload their opinion on the board, which restricts people's freedom of political expression. This violates the right to equality which is guaranteed by Constitution Article 11.

c. This law also infringes the right to control one's own personal information. This violates ones right to pursuit of happiness.

This is an unconstitutional law and should be repealed in its entirety.
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