Wednesday, September 07, 2011

South Korea Online Censorship

Professor K.S. Park was one of three members appointed by the opposition party of South Korea to the national Internet Censoring body Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC). An anti-censorship and free speech advocate, Park opposes most of the decisions made by the commission, a nine members body controlled by the ruling party. This week, Professor Park found his own blog on the roll of secret removal list to be considered by his own commission. KCSC cleans up the Internet on the South Korean government's like at the pace of removing close to 10,000 URLs a month. Park, using his blog, discusses legal implications and social impact of some removed contents he deems valuable.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a public letter to the KCSC expressing its concern, and pointed out 'no healthy democracy is possible where free speech is not tolerated'.

People of South Korea should count their blessing that, in the least, there are someone who argues for their online rights to accessing 'valuable expressive historical, political and artistic' contents. On the contrary, in China, domestic Internet contents providers were all aligned themselves with the government, with no exception at all. Even foreign companies such as Yahoo and Cisco, who do not operate within China's borders, thus not subject to Chinese laws, volunteered to work with the government, in many cases, at the life cost of their customers.

High-tech companies have an genuine interest in free flow of knowledge and information. With the talent as large as the Chinese, Chinese high-tech companies lagged behind their western counterparts at least a decade or more, a remarkable phenomena.

Similarly, in China, the farmers suffered the most under the national policy leaning towards cities. However, they were the group that seemed to be never complaining. Human rights activists are by and large comprised of intelligentsia, elites and political/economical privileged in the city. So they see the pain of farmers, and hate to see it, but it's not something they must loose their sleep over. This partially explains the overwhelming anti-government sentiment online, but overwhelming stability in real life in China.

Should we say, real victims never complains? This observation send an interesting to the regime, and and repressive regimes: do them harder!

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