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Oct. 23  2018
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Internet Content Rating System: Simply Protects Youth from Harmful Media?

Reference Sites: Collaboration Action Group Against Information and Communication Censorship Deliberation standard of the harmful media of youth, by Kim Sung-Woo (gaja92@dreamwiz.com)

Source  :  People\'s Solidarity For Participatory Democracy



In July 2000, the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) of Korea pronounced an act called 'Communication Order Act', which has introduced the PICS(Platform for Internet Content Selection) under the broad framework of Internet Content Rating System. This act manifestly shows the government's intent to control the world of WWW: the authorities concerned does not try to make the on-line world the more creative and critical space but they are attempting to tame the netizens in terms of their own rules and perspectives.

The potential danger of Internet Content Rating System is enormous. The Korean Ministry of Information and Communication insists that the act is for protecting youths from harmful Internet resources and an individual can freely choose which content may be displayed in one's own Web browser. However, the Alliance for stopping Korean Online Censorship refutes the argument in two points.

First, the PICS (Platform for Internet Content Selection), the core methodology of the Internet Rating System, requires the software for running the platform. In this point, the Alliance argues that the bottom line of the new Internet Content Rating System is not posting a rate on each web site but installing a software for PICS on Internet users' operating system. This forcibly imposes the installation of the PICS software in the public institutes, schools, medical institutes, and libraries under the pretext of 'protect juveniles from the harmful web sites'. This technological rating system will severely infringe on the people's right to know and their Internet access.

Second, the beta PICS software filters the web sites without the 'proper' posting on the rates by default. The Korean MIC says that this allows an individual to freely select the web sites she or he wants to see. However, this forces all the web sites to post either "not harmful for youths" or "harmful for youth" on their web sites. This will gravely violates the freedom of speech and expression on the net.

The 'self-determined' shutdown of Exzone web site is a conspicuous example of the misapplication Internet Content Rating System. The Exzone is the web site for the Lesbian & Gay Alliance Against Discrimination (LGAAD) in Korea. The Korean Ministry of Information and Communication warned the LGAAD website that it will pursue a criminal punishment unless the LGAAD posts the rating of 'harmful for youths' on the web site and the Exzone closed its web site 'autonomously'.

The warning of the Korean MIC is based on the following article of Youth Protection Law defining the characteristics of harmful web sites.

To describe bestiality or promote to commit adultery by mixed a few couples of men and women, incest, homosexual love, abnormal act like sadistic / masochistic sex maniac, prostitution act, and the other disallowed sexual intercourse from the social common idea's point of view. Ironically, this article directly contradicts the article of National Human Right Committee, which states that one should not be discriminated or separated based on her or his sexual disposition.

Along with the PICS, the Communication Order Act prohibits the on-line demonstration. It states that the government can seek a criminal punishment for those who transmit mass signal to a server for the purpose of impeding the operation of a specific web server. This is an attempt to control the progressive on-line activities along with off-line demonstrations. The term 'mass signal' is quite ambiguous

With the introduction of the development of the Communication Order Act and Internet Content Rating System, the freedom of speech and expression on the net is surely in danger. The netizens and NGOs concerned formed the Collaboration Action Group Against Information and Communication Censorship" (CAG) and are protesting against the series of regulation acts and related actions of the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication. It demanded the immediate abolishment of the Internet Content Rating System and the resignation of the Secretary of Ministry of Information and Communication. They also made clear that they would not accept the new type of censorship administrated by the Information and Communication Ethics Committee. The progressive labor group also joined this campaign. KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) defined the set of actions for the Internet Content Rating System as the 2nd National Security Law, which deeply infringe on people's right to freedom of expression, thoughts and demanded the related laws abrogated. The stand-off between civil groups and government seems to last long.
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