Google thinks the freedom of expression is most important value to uphold on the internet. We concluded in the end that it is impossible to provide benefits to internet users while observing this country’s law because the law does not fall in line with Google’s principles.
The law requires websites with more than 100,000 daily users to confirm the real identity of anyone who posts comments or uploads content. Google's solution: No comments or uploading.
It is, of course, a far better position than Google has taken in China. But is it really about principled corporate behavior?
Google has a very low share of the South Korean Internet market, as low as 5 per cent by some estimates. And it’s much larger Korean competitors cannot avoid the law as easily as Google. Will this strategy by Google help boost its standing among Korean users and build its market share? Is there a business model for providing Internet users with free expression? I guess we will find out.
If our experience here is any guide, I suspect users will prefer functionality over anonymity, especially in a part of the world that places a higher value than the U.S. on social harmony.
But this might be a first move at burnishing Google's ethics profile, which has been pretty tarnished by its participation in China. We'll just have to see how the company responds to doing business in other repressive countries.i