Blown To Bits

South Korea’s Crackdown on the Web

Friday, April 17th, 2009 by Harry Lewis

South Korea has implemented a three-strikes law ostensibly designed to combat music piracy. Three violations of copyright and you lose your Internet connection. Similar laws are being considered in France and elsewhere, but have been slowed by concerns about limiting citizens’ rights to private communication. The Koreans have just charged ahead. ArsTechnica summary here, and fuller Korea Times article here.

This law goes way beyond what even the most ambitious recording and movie industry lawyers could have hoped for, as any web site could be shut down for posting a few photos — or allowing others to post a few articles — that are supposedly copyrighted. A blogger quoted in the Korea Times says,

The law could have the government shutting down not only major Web portals, but online message boards of smaller companies and even `meta sites’ that compile blog posts. And the member blogs of the meta sites could be interpreted as online message boards, too.¬†The law draws a dreadful picture of the future, as Internet users will be required to submit their real names to post on individual blogs and not even imagine using the online message boards of Web portals or meta sites due to the worries of having his or her Internet cut off.

The powers granted to the government are so sweeping that there is suspicion that restraining copyright infringement is not the real or only agenda. As the Korea Times reports,

Critics question whether the new copyright law could eventually be used to suppress certain sites, such as Agora, a discussion board operated by Daum (, which was a seedbed for anti-government criticism during the controversy over the beef issue.

Control the Internet, control the people. The same infectious ubiquity that caused Domino’s Pizza such instant ¬†misery — which Domino’s is fighting using the Internet itself — can be used against the government. This bears watching. If it’s implemented and works in South Korea, other governments will take the lesson.

Comments are closed.