Bigger should be betterPortal site operators, major mobile service providers, prosecutors and the police met yesterday at the Ministry of Information and Communication to discuss countermeasures to video clips containing obscene content on Web sites. The meeting follows recent accidents whereby large-scale portal sites ― including Yahoo, Naver and Daum ― ran pornographic user-generated video clips, which had immense social repercussions. On Monday the Information Ministry is slated to announce a comprehensive measure against adult material in cyberspace.
Although related government ministries and Internet users have come up with a variety of countermeasures, the most important step is intensifying the monitoring system. More than anything else, large portal companies should take responsibility for rooting out all obscene digital content, which has immeasurable bad impacts on children and adolescents.
The companies are not supposed to make excuses, such as “we have smaller workforces for monitoring than is necessary.” The government should also catch those producing and distributing harmful content, but there are limits to the legal action that can be taken against video clips uploaded from overseas servers. Expecting the creators of Web content and Internet users to clean up content is out of the question. The responsibility largely lies with portals.
Of course it is very hard to screen video clips because they cannot be singled out with key words. Portal companies should develop a cutting-edge monitoring system through cooperation ― even if their spending is only half the amount spent on securing user-generated content and new technology development. How long are they going to depend on key-word searches by a monitoring workforce that numbers in the tens or hundreds?
Obscene content reporting systems should grow bigger, too. Portal sites should make a report button on the Web for enhanced user convenience and diversify reporting channels to phone calls and e-mails. The companies could also consider introducing an adult material grading system or adult verification system.
Korea is not the only country suffering headaches caused by user-generated content amid a worldwide boom of such material.
However, developing an effective system for screening harmful Web material will enhance Korea’s global competitiveness. It is high time that portal firms focus more on their legal and ethic responsibilities, moving their focus from mere size expansion.