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Lee warns of the evils of the Internet

June 18,2008
With the unconfirmed stories of mad cow disease spreading on cyberspace and fanning the flames of public outrage against the government’s opening of the local market to American beef, President Lee Myung-bak said yesterday that inaccurate information dispersed through the Internet is a threat to rationality.

He also said the Internet should be a space of trust, or it could turn out to be a negative force rather than a beneficial one.

Lee, who has been suffering an approval rate of less than 20 percent, released the remarks from an address he gave at the opening of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy in Seoul.

“Spam mail sent under the guise of anonymity and the spread of falsehoods and inaccurate information are threatening even rationality and trust,” he said. “In a nutshell, what is being menaced is the trust in transactions, a linchpin for the continued development of the Internet economy.”

Government officials and political watchers say that the rash of stories about the dangers of mad cow disease circulating in cyberspace is partly due to the fact that the Lee administration has failed to adequately address or cope with public fear. In a related development, the upcoming cabinet shake-up will include the creation of new presidential secretaries in charge of public information.

Lee stressed that he is convinced the Internet, if adequately utilized, can greatly contribute to resolving many problems facing mankind, including energy shortages, climate change and aging societies.

“The Internet-based economy promotes the development of a knowledge-based economy and contributes to new economic growth and job creation,” he said.

He said cooperation between countries is “urgently required.”

“The Internet is faced with new challenges and tasks to resolve, due to a lingering trust problem. The power of the Internet could be poisonous to us all, if public confidence fails,” said the president, noting a rising number of Internet viruses and hacking incidents worldwide.

Lee also noted that the global gap in Internet knowledge is bound to lead to an ever-widening socioeconomic separation among individuals and nations.

“As an Internet industry leader, the Republic [of Korea] will continue to strive for the eradication of the information gap globally,” he said.


By Lee Min-a Staff Reporter [mina@joongang.co.kr]


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