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technical filtering of websites related to North Korea, and the administrative deletion of certain content on the orders of the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) and the National Election Commission (NEC).

According to testing conducted by the OpenNet Initiative in 2006 and 2008, North Korearelated content has been heavily and explicitly filtered under the provisions of the National Security Law. At least 20 websites containing North Korean propaganda or promoting reunification of the two Koreas were found to be consistently blocked by the largest ISPs.25 By 2010, media reports indicated that the number of blocked North Korearelated sites had risen to 65.26 A small number of gambling and Korean-language pornographic websites were found to be filtered as well.27 The National Intelligence Service and the Korean National Police Agency can also ask the KCSC to have websites carrying proNorth Korean content blocked. The most recent example occurred in August 2010, when authorities blocked the official North Korea Twitter account, @uriminzok, within days of its launch. The justification given was that it violated the National Security Law, which classifies content that praises, promotes, and glorifies North Korea as illegal information.The KCSC is an independent statutory organization. It was established in 2008 to maintain ethical standards in broadcasting and internet communications. One of its main tasks is to monitor online content for possible violations including obscenity, defamation, and threats to national security. Citizens can also submit petitions against content that they believe has violated their privacy or harmed their reputation. The KCSC then makes recommendations to bulletin board operators, or ISPs when it deems necessary, to undertake corrective measures ranging from deletion of postings to blocking of designated internet protocol (IP) addresses. Such recommendations are not legally binding in themselves. However under the Comprehensive Measures on Internet Information Protection issued in 2008, in cases of noncompliance, the KCC may step in and impose OpenNet Initiative, Internet Filtering in South Korea in 20062007, http://opennet.net/studies/south-korea2007.

The author has compiled the statistics from information located on the KCSC website at http://www.kocsc.or.kr/04_info/info_Communition_List.php (in Korean).

OpenNet Initiative, Country ProfileSouth Korea, December 26, 2010, http://opennet.net/research/profiles/southkorea.

Josh Halliday, North Korea Twitter Account Banned in South Korea, The Guardian, August 19, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/pda/2010/aug/19/north-korea-twitter-banned-south.

SOUTH KOREA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net heavy fines on service providers.29 Consequently, the vast majority of censorship recommendations are implemented. The KCSC process has been criticized by civil society groups for its vaguely defined standards and the wide discretionary power that this single entity possesses to determine what information should be deleted.The KCSC intermittently publishes on its website the results of its deliberations, including statistics on the corrective measures taken. From the KCSCs establishment in February 2008 to the end of 2010, 10,641 items were reportedly deleted for disturbing social order, while 5,336 items were deleted for obscenity, 2,711 for violation of others rights, 645 for inciting violence, and 6,171 for encouraging gambling.Among the types of content subject to potential deletion is material deemed to have obstructed business. There have been several incidents in recent years in which content that was apparently disseminated in the public interest was nevertheless deleted. A significant example stemmed from a wave of candlelight demonstrations between May and July 10, 2008. The protesters were criticizing the new conservative government for hastening an agreement to import American beef, despite public concerns over the credibility of U.S. food regulation and the danger of mad cow disease.32 Demonstrators also began criticizing the countrys three dominant, conservative newspapersChosun Ilbo, Joongang Ilbo, and Dong-a Ilbo, commonly referred to collectively as Chojoongdongfor being explicitly supportive of the governments actions after taking the opposite stance when the liberal government was in power. Protesters used an online bulletin board to identify companies that placed advertisements in the three dailies and threatened to boycott those that failed to withdraw their ads. The media outlets responded by pressuring the authorities to take action, and at least 58 boycott-related postings on the bulletin board were permanently deleted in July 2008 on the advice of the KCSC.33 Boycott supporters then created a publicly accessible Google-based document in a bid to replace the bulletin board and circumvent the Korean restrictions.

In another case, the KCSC in 2007 ordered the deletion of articles posted by environmentalist Choi Byung-sung that revealed carcinogenic ingredients in cement made by particular firms. The deletion was reportedly ordered on the grounds that the articles defamed the cement companies. Choi filed a lawsuit against the KCSCs actions. On February 1, 2010, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled that the KCSCs instruction be Ha-won Jung, Internet to Be Stripped of Anonymity, Joongang Daily, July 23, 2008, http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.aspaid=2892691.

Peoples Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Written Statement on Freedom of Opinion and Expression of the ROK to the UNHRC, February 21, 2011, http://blog.peoplepower21.org/English/21030.

The author has compiled the statistics from information located on the KCSC website at http://www.kocsc.or.kr/04_info/info_Communition_List.php (in Korean).

Paul Krugman, Bad Cow Disease, New York Times, June 13, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/13/opinion/13krugman.html.

E. H. Chae, Delete Postings That Pressurize Advertisers in Chojoongdong, Says KCSC, Pressian, July 1st, 2008, http://www.pressian.com/article/article.asparticle_num=40080701194755&Section=06 (in Korean).

SOUTH KOREA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net revoked. In addition to overturning the KCSCs directive in this instance, the ruling also set an important precedent that the commissions decisions are subject to review by administrative courts.More recently, a controversy arose after a North Korean military attack on Yeonpyeong Island in November 2010. At that time, the KCC reportedly considered the adoption of special measures under which, in emergency situations, the KCC may directly request ISPs to delete certain content, circumventing the KCSCs deliberation. In the face of public criticism, the KCC appeared to back off from the plan.Restrictions on online expression surrounding elections are more stringent than in other democracies, and have gradually tightened since grassroots e-campaigning and citizen journalism were widely regarded as the deciding factors in the December 2002 presidential elections. Although the measures adopted have been aimed at ensuring fair electoral competition, their broad scope raises concerns about the restriction of political speech that is important for voters and candidates. Article 93 of the Public Official Election Act prohibits individual voters from distributing or displaying an advertisement, letter of greeting, poster, photograph, document, drawing, printed matter, audio tape, video tape, or the like during the 180 days prior to election day if it contains an endorsement of or opposition to a candidate or a political party. The NEC has interpreted this article as also applying to blog posts, user comments on news websites, and user-generated content over advanced web applications. Commissioners may demand that websites or blog-hosting services delete postings that carry such content. According to research by the OpenNet Initiative, the NEC has two divisions responsible for regulating online content related to elections: the Internet Election News Deliberation Commission, which deals with online news outlets, and the Cyber Censorship Team, which deals with user-generated content and other websites. The latter reportedly hires 1,000 part-time staff in the four months ahead of an election to monitor online content and flag violations of the election law.36 In April 2010, the NEC issued guidelines that expanded the scope of restricted content from endorsement of candidates to endorsement of policies, thereby inhibiting the dissemination of information about key campaign issues such as environmental projects or subsidized school meals.

The aforementioned regulations, in addition to real-name registration and prosecution of bloggers, have contributed to an atmosphere of self-censorship among users, particularly on topics like North Korea. They have also led some providers and websites to institute their own registration or content monitoring policies so as to preempt censorship orders from government agencies and avoid violation of existing laws. S. Y. Kim, I Thank the Toxic Cement Manufacturers, Says the Citizen Journalist Who Ignited the Debate about the Unconstitutionality of Internet Censorship, OhmyNews, February 18, 2011, http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/view/at_pg.aspxCNTN_CD=A0001525285 (in Korean).

J. S. Kim, Government to Pursue Unannounced Deletion of Internet Content in Tense Situations, Hankyoreh, December 22, 2010, http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/economy/it/455022.html (in Korean).

OpenNet Initiative, Country ProfileSouth Korea. OpenNet Initiative, Country ProfileSouth Korea. SOUTH KOREA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net South Koreans have enthusiastically embraced online technology to facilitate civic engagement and mobilization. As one of the first societies with widespread high-speed internet access, South Korea is home to pioneering examples of grassroots e-campaigning, such as the Nosamo internet-based voluntary association,38 and citizen journalism initiatives such as the website OhmyNews.39 The protests against American beef imports in marked a further development of the intersection between online and offline protest, as it featured real-time coordination and live broadcasting of large-scale demonstrations via SMS and wireless internet on personal laptops.VIOLATIONS OF USER RIGHTS The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and association to all citizens, but it also enables restrictions, stating that neither speech nor the press may violate the honor or rights of other persons nor undermine public morale or social ethics. South Korea has an independent judiciary and a national human rights commission that have taken decisions upholding freedom of expression. Nonetheless, a rise in criminal cases brought for online speech has generated a chilling effect, even if some of the accused have ultimately been acquitted. Following a fact-finding visit to South Korea in May 2010, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, raised concerns over the governments new and more restrictive interpretations and application of existing laws.Several laws in South Korea have been used to restrict freedom of expression in traditional media as well as for online communications. The 1948 National Security Law allows prison sentences of up to seven years for praising or expressing sympathy for the North Korean regime. In April 2010, the Ministry of Unification also issued a notice reminding users that the Act on Exchanges and Collaboration Between South and North Korea applies to online communications as well as offline encounters, and that any visit to websites or pages maintained by people in North Korea must be reported to the government in advance. Anyone failing to do so faces a fine of up to one million won (US$890). Nosamo is an internet-based voluntary association Act on Exchanges and Collaboration Between South and North Korea of supporters of Roh Moo-hyun, the 16th president of South Korea, who was in office from February 2003 to February 2008. See also N. Hachigian, Political Implications of the Information Revolution in Asia, in The Information Revolution in Asia (Arlington, VA: RAND, 2003), 5591.

OhmyNews is considered the inspiration for similar projects around the globe, or even a glimpse into the future of news media generally. D. Gillmor, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People (Sebastopol: OReilly Media, 2004), 110. However, in 2010, this 10-year-old website admitted that it was less financially viable than initially thought. Eugene L.

Meyer, By The People: The Rise of Citizen Journalism (Washington, DC: Center for International Media Assistance, December 16, 2010), http://cima.ned.org/sites/default/files/CIMA-Citizen_Journalism-Report.pdf.

Sunny Lee, Party Time at South Koreas Protest 2.0, Asia Times, June 13, 2008, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/JF13Dg01.html.

La Rue, Full Text of Press Statement. Ministry of Unification, Notice on the Use of North Korean Internet Sites, News & Statements, April 8, 2010, http://www.unikorea.go.kr/CmsWeb/viewPage.reqidx=PG0000000346&boardDataId=BD0000186451&CP0000000002_ SOUTH KOREA FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net Defamation remains a criminal offense, and although prosecutions have decreased, some have occurred in recent years.

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