[LETTERS to the editor]Netizen postings need a strict law

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[LETTERS to the editor]Netizen postings need a strict law

Thousands of postings by anonymous writers fill Internet Web sites today. These anonymous comments, especially those with distorted and manipulated information, exert a negative influence, and can lead to virtual witch hunts.

Comments written by anonymous writers often contain errors or exaggerated information. However, many netizens fall for such unreliable information on the Internet. For instance, many apparently believe that a high percentage of Koreans could end up with BSE if they consume U.S. beef. Although this is far from the truth, many people have come out on the streets protesting, because they are convinced by these exaggerated rumors.

Last year, some people, such as the “dog-poop lady” and the “balloon lady” underwent ordeals of severe criticism by netizens. While I agree that people can be criticized for improper behavior, I note that these ladies received harsher criticism from netizens than they deserved. Their daily lives suffered because their personal records as well as their photographs were uploaded on the Internet; they lost their privacy once their personal records were exposed.

In another instance, some riot policemen - accused of violence in dealing with protesters - became notorious among netizens when their photographs started to circulate on the Net.

Numerous netizens worked to find these policemen’s private home pages and distributed the policemen’s online addresses all over cyberspace. This allowed people to leave foul comments and harass the policemen on their private home pages. Some of them were innocent (they did not necessarily exercise violence); but false rumors often victimize the innocent. These are caused by anonymous writers on the Internet.

We should establish new Internet policies. While expressing individual opinion is a positive method to share ideas with others, starting false or exaggerated rumors and infringing on people’s privacy should be banned. Therefore, I suggest that the government adopt a stricter Internet law. Furthermore, cyber police should strengthen online monitoring systems to prevent these occurrences. Also, each portal site should require all netizens to use real names when posting comments on Web sites, to hold each individual responsible for their writing.

Kim Min-kyung, Gaepo-dong, Gangnam, Seoul

*e-mail to eopinion@joongang.co.kr or via fax to 82-2-751-9219
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