Group assails South’s Web policies

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Group assails South’s Web policies

South Korea, the world’s most wired country, has been listed as one of the few democracies where the Internet is “under surveillance” by the government, according to a recent report by the Paris-based rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The media organization also said in the report dated Friday it has listed North Korea among the world’s 12 top enemies of the Internet, the worst violators of the freedom of expression in the cyber world. The RSF said South Korea was put on the list of the second most serious violators of Internet freedom, along with Australia, because of the South Korean government’s alleged promotion of censorship.

“Draconian laws are creating too many specific restrictions on Web users by challenging their anonymity and promoting self-censorship,” read the report explaining how South Korea’s freedom on the Web was restricted.

The South Korean government requires visitors of some Web portals to give their real names and residential registration numbers to verify their identity before posting messages or comments. The report warned that the government’s battle against proliferating false information could even alienate potential investors.

“Its drastic rules with regard to Web user registration and surveillance are considered by such international Web sites as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as a deterrent with regard to their entry into the South Korean market,” it said.

It also mentioned the case of the popular blogger Minerva, who in 2008 was accused of disseminating false information on the Web in his portrayal of the South Korean economy.

The report said the government’s strengthening of censorship was motivated by its attempt to maintain order in a period of social unrest. But authorities have resorted to “excessive means,” it said. Yonhap
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