Thursday, November 01, 2007

[The Hankyoreh, November 1 2007] [Editorial] Gagging Korea’s netizens with an outdated law

Article 93 of the Public Official Election Law prohibits the posting or screening of any expression in support or opposition of a political party or candidate with the intention of influencing the election’s outcome within 180 days of the day of the vote in question. This part of the law serves to gag Korea’s netizens, some 618 of whom are being investigated by the police for violating the law ahead of the presidential election that will take place at the end of the year. The National Election Commission has demanded that material be removed from Internet sites in more than 50,000 instances.


The NEC and the police need to stop their excessive application of the law. If libel is the problem, the police can always prosecute people according to criminal law. If we want to get rid of the potential for controversy, the National Assembly will have to amend the election law. It was way back in 2003 that the NEC first announced its position that online campaigning should be allowed at any and all times, even during the official campaign period. The law has not changed, however, because of opposition from the Grand National Party. In fact, the GNP has proposed an amendment to the law that would go much farther in stifling expression by Internet users, even more than is the case today. The basic rights of the people should not be trampled on any longer because of political interests.

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