중앙데일리

Web harassment victims plan to sue portal sites

July 07,2005
The movement against online defamation campaigns took a new turn yesterday as two individuals announced they would sue six major Internet portal sites for failing to delete posts and photos meant to defame them.
Remedies for what is being called “cyber terror” are already being contemplated by the Ministry of Information and Communication, which is considering a system that would require users to be identified by their real names in at least some areas of the Internet.
Yesterday at Seoul Press Center, a 29-year-old man and the mother of a teenager who both said they had been victimized announced they would take the issue to court.
The man became the target of a harassment campaign in May, after his ex-girlfriend killed herself. After an associate of the girl posted a message blaming him for the death, Internet users circulated his picture, ID number and phone number. For a time, his name was a popular search term on Korean search engines. His employer, a major corporation, received threats to boycott its products; he eventually quit.
“I had no way of explaining myself to these anonymous people who accused me of causing my ex-girlfriend’s death,” he said. With a lawyer’s help, he contacted six portal sites and asked them to remove messages that could harm him by revealing personal information. None took action, he said.
The woman planning to sue said her 15-year-old daughter has been missing since March, when she ran away after an online campaign blaming her for a school nurse’s suicide.
“By remaining silent about such postings, the portals have increased their traffic and made more money from ads,” said Byeong Hui-jae, who represents a group of cyber terror victims.
Kim Seong-ho of Kinternet, an assocation of Internet companies, said the sites should not be held accountable. “Holding the portals responsible for the problems may discourage Internet business,” he said.
Min Gyeong-bae, a professor at Kyunghee Cyber University, said the sites should change their practices. “These portal companies should manage their message boards ethically, by hiring at least a couple of moderators,” he said.


by Moon Byung-joo


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