‘Real-name’ rule for Internet begins this yearIn a bid to crack down on cyber crimes, Korea’s major portals are to introduce a “real-name system” by the end of this year. The Ministry of Information and Communication unveiled a plan yesterday to require Internet users to provide identification, such as their real names and resident registration numbers (the Korean equivalent of U.S. social security numbers), before being allowed to make posts online. At a public hearing attended by related academics and experts, the ministry said that upon receiving a complaint that an online post is infringing on someone’s privacy or human rights, or is libelous, it would temporarily block people from reading the message. Following an investigation, a decision would be made to either end the block or make it permanent, the ministry said. The government action is aimed at combating the recent spate of cyberspace incidents involving anonymous posters. Some 61,709 cyberspace crimes were reported last year, 2.7 times the number recorded in 2001. Portal sites with a “large number” of members and visitors or a high annual revenue, along with major news sites, will have to adopt the Internet real-name system, the ministry said. The sites will only allow those who are willing to verify their identities to sign up. However, bulletin boards and Web sites belonging to private businesses, political parties and social groups will not be affected by the measure. The ministry said members of major portals will be able to use nicknames when making posts, but only if they log on through sites where they have submitted their personal details. Portal operators will be able to check the identities of anyone leaving posts at any time. Industry experts said that the measure would have little to no effect on most portals, or their current and future members, because most well-known portals and news sites already operate a system in which members who sign up have to verify their identity. However, some portals that allow anonymous replies and posts with no log-in process will have to conform to the new regulations. After consulting with portal operators and industry experts, the ministry will make any necessary revisions to the legislation, before enacting the regulation late this year. by Lee Hee-sung
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