After the Constitutional Court determined the unconstitutionality to the real-name policy on the Internet in 2012, a lot of things happened in Korea, including the sinking of ferry Sewol, presidential impeachment, and burning fires. At times, what was controversial was the malicious comments some members of the public made. In order to regulate the vicious postings, some lawmakers recently called for the Internet real-name system to be re-engaged. However, since it was already removed by the Constitutional Court, it is doubtful how effective the Internet real-name policy will be even if implemented. It is a hasty judgment that malicious postings can disappear if the real-name policy is implemented. Rather than that, we should know the heart of the problem.
First, the real-name policy can infringe on freedom of expression. This fact has already been fully disclosed by the Constitutional Court’s judgement in 2012. The real-name policy was implemented for five years starting in 2007 to stop the defamation of Internet users. Some civic groups, however, filed a petition to the Constitutional Court because they claimed the real-name policy violates freedom of expression and the right to protect information. After that, the Constitutional Court made the following judgement: “Internet users came to be restricted in their rights to express themselves freely when they posted comments and to spread their opinions. Also, portal sites are also deprived of their rights to form public opinion freely.” Therefore, the internet real-name policy was declared unconstitutional. Accordingly, even if the Internet real-name policy is restored, it is highly likely that it will infringe on freedom of Internet users again.
Second, there is a possibility of leakage of personal information. For the internet real-name policy, real names and resident registration numbers of Internet users are required. However, it is questionable whether the personal information of millions can be safely secured on portal sites. After the Internet real-name system was implemented in the past, the number of online cases for personal information breaches had increased. In 2010, according to a press release by Choi Mun-soon of the Democratic Party, right after the real-name policy was adopted, the cases of personal information breaches surged 53 percent year-on-year. If the real-name policy on the Internet is implemented again, the risk of personal information leakage will also increase.
Third, we cannot completely improve the problems of abusive comments through the real-name policy. The reason some people claim that the Internet real-name policy has to be implemented again is that they think the cause of cyber bullying is “anonymity.” However, according to Han Sang-hee, a professor at Konkuk University, the reason for constant cyber-bullying is from the fact that users cannot physically see each other’s faces. Thus, resolving anonymity cannot be a fundamental solution. Also, according to Woo Ji-sook, a professor at Seoul National University’s Graduate school of Public Administration, 13.9 percent of postings were abusive before the real-name system. But after the implementation of this policy, 12.2 percent of them were abusive postings. This has shown that the effectiveness of the system has been insignificant. In addition, the number of IPs was more than 2,580 before the real-name system, but it decreased drastically to 737 after its implementation. This means that there is no free communication among the internet users due to the real-name policy.
We need to consider more carefully about the introduction of the Internet real-name system being discussed again to prevent cyber-bullying. Given the problems that have occurred since the real-name system was implemented, even if the Internet real-name system is re-introduced, we can’t guarantee the problems will not arise again. Also, to solve problem of cyber violence, which is the background to the Internet real-name system being reexamined, we will have to look at other ways to fundamentally address this issue.
The real-name policy has come to draw attention again because the public is becoming more tired of fabricated public opinion on the Internet and postings of malicious comments. Social discussions are now taking place in earnest, with opposition lawmakers who claim to push for a full implementation of the real-name system. On the part of the people who are in favor of adopting the Internet real-name system, they argued that freedom of expression by individuals can be another source of damage to others and the fact that the Internet real-name system could prevent wasted manpower. On the other hand, people who are opposed to this issue claim that the Constitutional Court has already judged this issue as unconstitutional and the problem of leakage of personal information can become serious. As information services using the Internet become more active, responsibility is also the most important factor in expressing individual opinions in cyber space. We will have to be more careful and think twice before we express our opinions on the Internet.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >