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Defending ‘real names’

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July 11,2005
Information Minister Chin Dae-je said that as his ministry plans to crack down on cyber terrorism, through measures like forcing Internet users to use their real names online, it will safeguard freedom of expression. In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday, Mr. Chin said, “Many people misunderstand the proposed ‘real name system’ on the Internet. The ministry is planning to ask for real names and residential registration numbers only when users sign up on a Web site. They will still be able to use nicknames when using services.” “I don’t think it is necessary to ask for a user’s real name whenever he uses the Internet,” Mr. Chin added. “The system is designed to prevent potential defamation or encroachment on personal rights, and to punish people who cause trouble.” He said the ministry is considering using a term other than “real name system” in order to prevent such misunderstandings. “More than 70 percent of the Korean population uses the Internet, but there is room for improvement in Internet etiquette. People should take responsibility for what they do online as they do offline,” he said. Mr. Chin added that each Internet site would also contain services that allow anonymity to protect freedom of expression. “But we’re considering making it more difficult to enter bulletin boards that allow anonymity,” he said. The government is also seeking ways, such as through online certificates, to enable overseas users who do not have residential registration numbers to register in the new system. In other news, Mr. Chin said that high-speed downlink packet access, or HSDPA, the 3.5-generation wireless technology, will be launched in Korea as early as next March. “People from the government, companies, and research institutions met this morning and agreed to do so,” he said. HSDPA is much faster than current data transfer technology, with users being able to exchange video clips through their mobile gadgets. Regarding persistent calls for cellular phone service charges to be lowered, “It is not an area in which the government can intervene,” Mr. Chin said. However, he added, “as more than 90 percent of subscribers are using a caller ID service, I think those civic groups that are insisting that the charge for this service should be included in the basic fee have a point.” by Lee Weon-ho


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