Friday, June 20, 2008

Koreans Protest Internet Policies

Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, together with activists of Korea Human Rights Network, had a press conference this morning (June 20, 2008) at 11 am in the lobby of Grand Ballroom where stakeholder's forums were held, to criticize the ICT policy of Korean government and censure brutal violence of riot police. Though there was a restraint of security guard for a while, we could proceed a press conference successfully.

Byoung Il Oh, Jinbonet Journalist

There are forums of the OECD going on in Seoul. This is the press release which the activists have posted:
Internet powerhouse, Korea? Shame on its Internet policies!

OECD ministerial meeting on "the Future of the Internet Economy" will be held in Seoul, Korea from June 17th to 18th. The Korean government seems to use this meeting as an opportunity to show off its advances
of the Internet technology and promote "IT Korea global sales" by hosting the World IT Show and other similar events. However, no one would call a nation a 'leading country of the Internet' solely on its strong information technology base and IT industries. We hope this meeting would be a chance for the Korean government to recognize and feel embarrassed for its information and communication policies, including Internet policies, which violate many human-rights and is lagging behind.

Just a few months ago, an Internet auction site was hacked causing personal information of more than ten million people to be exposed, and one of the major ISPs, Hanaro-Telecom, intentionally abused its more than six million clients' personal information (the number of leaked records were more than eighty five millions). If public authority did their jobs in monitoring and overseeing these companies' behaviors in collecting and using personal information, damages from such instances could have been minimized. NGOs in Korea has argued for establishing an independent 'privacy supervisory authority' to oversee
such activities for many years. But the government's lack of will and the National Assembly's negligence cast a long shadow on the prospect of establishing such an authority to oversee privacy in the so-called 'Internet powerhouse'.... An administrative body of the government (Korea Communication Commission, which hosts the OECD meeting) can order deletion of expressions (articles, video files and so on) on the Internet which it decides is illegal without any judicial process. Moreover, the government tends to regulate critical expression toward the government on the Internet through various ways. Recently, as concerns and criticism over beef import negotiations between Korea and U.S. spread among citizens through the Internet, the Korean government stipulated the Internet as the origin of 'negative public opinion against the government'. A government official called an Internet portal site hosting one of the on-line communities to pressure them.

Furthermore, the Korean Communications Standards Commission, a deliberation authority, issued a recommendation that recommends 'purifying its languages and restraining exaggerated expressions' to an on-line community that is critical about the government.

One of the slogans of the conference is 'confidence'. However, information and communication policies in Korea has been pursuing 'control' instead of 'confidence'. We hope the OECD meeting to be an opportunity for Korean government to reflect on its policies and the government to listen to the voice of civil societies that have long been ignored.

June 16, 2008 Korean Progressive Network, Jinbonet

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