Be careful with tech powerA side effect of the Shin Jeong-ah affair is that people have become more scared of privacy leaks.
The fact that science and technology have developed to the point that they can trace e-mail erased years ago has left a grave imprint on the public that perhaps one of the comforts of civilization could turn into a shackle.
Adding to the public fear, coincidentally, is a report recently released by the Ministry of Information and Communication indicating an increase in the number of telecommunication monitorings for the purpose of investigation.
According to the report, investigative authorities such as the prosecution, the police, the intelligence service and the military, have requested personal information from telecommunication companies in some 2.2 million cases during the first half of this year, an increase of 30 percent from last year. While only 623 were actually monitored and the rest were used only for reference material, it is still unsettling to think how many numbers and Web site IDs were turned in to investigative authorities.
In particular, it is unnerving to think that e-mail monitoring has increased some 58 percent, considering that e-mails are considered more private than telephone calls.
Monitoring by investigative authorities is an inevitable consequence of crime becoming more technical and sophisticated.
It is only natural that the number of phone and e-mail monitorings has increased, considering the fact that phone and e-mail use has increased. Authorities must not ignore the fear and concern of the public when conducting investigations.
Indiscriminate monitoring that would make even innocent citizens wary of using their e-mail will be like the old saying, “Burning down the house to catch a flea.” It could seriously compromise the reputation and future of Korea as an IT stronghold.
Considering these public concerns, the revision bill on telecommunication privacy protection now pending in the National Assembly should be passed as promptly as possible. There should also be technical guidelines to prevent abuse of power when it comes to monitoring.
Authorities could also consider the possibility of the court notifying the target of the monitoring after a certain period of time has passed.
Responsibility for illegal monitoring and information leaks should be tightened so that those in charge are less likely to abuse their power in the first place.
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