[LETTERS to the editor]We need Internet ethics education

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[LETTERS to the editor]We need Internet ethics education

In this information age, the Internet has greatly improved our lives. But we haven’t really been concerned about negative side effects.

After unsubstantiated rumors floating around cyberspace led to the suicide of a popular actress, voices emerged that argued we should put a lid on Internet abuse.

But now, we all seem to have been caught up in some mysterious Internet spell again. And as we speak, the Internet continues to shake the roots of our society.

Unrestrained vulgar language enables faceless criminal behavior that ultimately infects Korean ethics as a whole.

These malicious Internet users are crude and boorish; they take out their frustrations on others and their actions have even caused deaths.

More and more people are victimized by such cyber terrorism. Still many others are fearful that their computers might be hacked at any moment.

The Internet message boards are flooded with slanderous messages, and rare are the e-mail users who haven’t been offended by spam messages cluttering their inbox. Today, it’s no longer just about spam mails; users’ e-mail addresses can be stolen as well.

Most groundless rumors in cyberspace are written by those who hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. These words can insult and offend specific groups of people or a huge mass.

Anonymity is justified for some messages but that’s very rare. In most cases, people abuse anonymity and the speed of the Internet to wreak havoc in cyberspace. The degree of the damage is reaching a point where human dignity is at risk.

Lawmakers are pushing for legal measures to regulate slander on the Internet. But to shut down Internet abuse, introducing laws and laying down punishment won’t be nearly enough. A more fundamental response would be to strengthen education on Internet ethics.

Political parties have different opinions on how they should go about Internet-related laws. In a democratic society, this is only the right thing to do.

But when it comes to laws that form the basis of society, lawmakers should set aside party lines and listen to what the people have to say. Experts and educators should come together to enhance our education on Internet ethics.

Kim Byung-moo, professor of social studies
education, Kongju National University

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