[EDITORIALS]Stop cyber terrorismLibelers are floating through cyberspace, which is regarded as another arena in this year's presidential and local elections. Internet bulletin boards on the homepages of the ruling and opposition parties' candidates are flooded with groundless calumnies and insulting remarks about specific candidates.
The Millennium Democratic Party, standing in the middle of this new world of primaries, is suffering greatly from such cyber terrorism. Kim Joong-kwon, a former ruling party candidate, was such a victim of Internet users' aggressive demands that he gave up running in the primaries. The war between the two ruling party primaries' front-runners, Roh Moo-hyun and Rhee In-je, has seldom been free from cyber terrorism. Supporters of Mr. Rhee argue that Mr. Roh's camp initiated cyber terrorism against Mr. Rhee by suggesting to form a commando group to attack Mr. Ree on the bulletin board. Mr. Roh's camp rebuts that Mr. Rhee's argument came from his "lack of understanding of the Internet culture."
The seriousness of cyber terrorism, which has gone past the dangerous level, stands out when reading e-mail sent to reporters. Internet users have sent abusive and violent messages to reporters who wrote unfavorable articles about some candidates or critical articles about candidates' policies. Some of the messages: "You should die of cancer," "You'd better watch out walking in the dark" and "Death to you."
Cyber terrorism is a serious problem because it devastates our political culture. Some Internet users hide behind the anonymity, reducing our politics to mere dogfights. Internet users accustomed to libelous statements will unlikely abandon their disgraceful habits in reality, demonstrating the grave nature of cyber terrorism.
It is difficult to chase down Internet users who spew forth libel. The National Election Commission only detected 493 cases of cyber terrorism this year, which is only the tip of the iceberg. Because the police and the commission's investigative abilities are limited, candidates running for president or in local elections should help clean up online political arenas in which their supporters take part. Without controlling dirty online political fights, the new politics of primaries cannot play its intended function in real life.