Tuesday, August 05, 2008

[The Hankyoreh, July 25 2008] [Editorial] The police’s Internet blockade

It has only now been revealed that the National Police Agency demanded Google Inc.’s YouTube remove some video content. The video in question was from an MBC news report televised in April alleging that there is prostitution going on in a hotel owned by the younger brother of National Police Chief Eo Cheong-soo. If they are even going to go after news like that, then the country will have no way to realize its “right to know” (al gwolli) on the Internet. Google is no less deserving of criticism for responding favorably in blocking the free flow of information than the police are for going beyond their authority.

The question that must be answered here is whether Eo ordered or permitted the National Police Agency’s cyber terrorism unit to demand the video be removed. The Communications Information Network Law (jeongbo tongsinmang beop) makes it possible only for people directly affected by violations of privacy or defamation of character to request that material be taken down from the Internet, so it is itself a violation of the law for a government agency to have taken action on behalf of the national police chief or his younger brother. If it did so at Eo’s direction, then he needs to be held responsible for misfeasance, since it would mean he put a government agency to work on personal matters.

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