Google sidesteps Korean identity law

Google sidesteps Korean identity law

Summary: As Google tells it, the reason it did an end-run around South Korea's Big Brother law was a matter of principle. It is, of course, a far better position than Google has taken in China. But is it really about principled corporate behavior?

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TOPICS: CXO, Browser, Google
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As Google tells it, the reason it did an end-run around South Korea's Big Brother law, was a matter of principle. Hankyoreh relates this statement from global comms veep Rachel Whetstone:

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?

Tom Foremski suggests it's also a useful business strategy:

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

Topics: CXO, Browser, Google

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  • Social Harmony = Social slavery and lack of dissent

    In most of the countries that 'value that'. The fact is that social harmony comes second to my right to do what I want to do as long as I am not: physically harming someone else without their permission, stealing from someone else, forcing someone else into a sexual situation, or killing someone else.

    Outside of that..... Korea can STICK it's 'Social Harmony' that equates more to slavery and not being able to challenge what the 'gubmint' says is 'right'.

    We are having that in many countries in the Middle East right now, on things like women's rights and homosexuality.
    Here in the United States: pedosexuality is the 'whipping body' of the 'social harmonists who only want you to do what is best for you and everyone else'.

    Frankly, social harmony is a guise for totalitarians.... and it shouldn't be allowed to stand in a country that is one of our STAUNCHEST allies.
    Lerianis
    • Pedosexuality? Are you kidding me?

      Here in the United States: pedosexuality is the (sic) 'whipping body' of the 'social harmonists who only want you to do what is best for you and everyone else'.

      You're kidding, right? Are you seriously attempting to argue that pedophilia should be allowed under law? It's not pedosexuality; children do not, by definition, have the understanding of sexual relationships that adults do. It is not possible to have a consenting relationship between 'equals'; there ARE NO EQUALS. That's why pedophilia is banned in every country worthy of living in. I would go beyond a legal remedy to capital punishment, but that's my opinion. As is this: if you are into that kind of thing, do the world a favor and kill yourself.

      Regarding the merits of this issue, in Korea, your family name is listed first for a reason; the individual truly isn't as important as the group. That's the way they roll, but the influence of American culture is changing this picture. The South Korean government is taking a simple step: you can spread all the rumors you want, but you better be ready to put your name to them instead of talking sh*t anonymously. It's not just the government stifling free speech; anonymous cyberstalking and cyberbullying are very significant problems there. A famous movie star recently killed herself because of the rumors being spread about her on the web. After her death, they found out the rumors were being spread by some nobody office worker who didn't like her. They may need a measure of accountability to bring this under control, but I doubt this law is the way to do it.
      heres_johnny
  • RE: Google sidesteps Korean identity law

    If they want the market share wouldn't it be logical to devise a login schedule for users allowing each user access only on certain days of the week (if it were account driven) or access to certain IP ranges on certain days and then deny all requests over the threshold, thus always keeping the daily site users to under 100,000?
    techaaa6
  • Differences ...

    When are people going to learn that not everyone is like them? "Social Harmony" is very important in Asian cultures and equally not so in western (American) culture. Each group looks down their nose at the other saying "how can you live like that!?!?"

    One of these days it's going to occur to someone that not everyone has to embrace their values and that what works for them might not work somewhere else - and forcing others to accept their values is wrong. And with that thought, the world will come to a sudden stop, and hell will freeze over.

    aureolin
  • RE: Google sidesteps Korean identity law


    There are more articles about clash between google and Korean government .

    S. Korea may clash with Google over Internet regulation differences http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/350252.html

    [Editorial] KCC?s childish threat to Google http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_editorial/350258.html
    starry9