Remember the right to be forgotten

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Remember the right to be forgotten


“The court is making all various efforts to improve the behaviors of judges, but citizens are unable to see the result because some judges make inappropriate remarks.”

Independent lawmaker Seo Gi-ho was the first questioner at the National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee’s parliamentary inspection of the Gwangju District Court on Oct. 11. His comment is reasonable, but it recalls another memory. When Seo was a judge last year, he created a controversy by posting an inappropriate comment on Twitter: “Getting screwed big time by the president, lol!” Many people found the tweet shocking and uncomfortable.

The Democratic United Party’s 31-year-old lawmaker Kim Kwang-jin also is in trouble because of the side effects of his use of social networks. His remarks in the past have overshadowed his parliamentary activities, including his exposure of the “knock-and-defect” at a unit on the front line. Before he became a National Assembly member, he re-tweeted a question and answer by Twitter users: “What is your New Year’s wish?” and “Sudden death of Lee Myung-bak.” Last year, he tweeted about the members of the Korea Parent Federation: “If you grow old, age gracefully, not like trash.” Moreover, it has been revealed that between 2004 and 2006, he wrote on his personal page: “If I have a girlfriend, my mom will buy me a condo in downtown” and “Will someone go to Turkey with me this winter?” Kim was born April 28, 1981, even before the Gwangju Democratization Movement. He joined the Army in September 2004 and served for two years. So the posts must have been uploaded during or around the time of his military service. But because he became a National Assembly member, these old posts have resurfaced. So he must feel embarrassed.

So the European Union is promoting a revision to the privacy and personal information guideline to guarantee the “right to be forgotten” online to take effect in 2014. In the United States, digital undertakers are operating to “erase the online life.” The “right to be forgotten” is under discussion in Korea as well, but related codes are already provided on the Personal Information Protection Act and the Act on the Promotion of Information Communication Network Usage and Protection of Information. First, we need social consensus on the range and limitation of the right to be forgotten.

And I am sorry to say that for the members of the National Assembly, public figures with public responsibilities, “the right to be remembered” is far more important than the right to be forgotten. While the remarks were made before they were elected, we are holding hearings on ministerial candidates to verify they are respectable. Kim Gwang-jin says he memorizes a phrase from the Analects each day. So I want to refer to the Confucian classic for advice: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”

* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo

by Noh Jae-hyun
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