Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Real Names online: a roundup/catch up

The government is considering requiring real names online to prevent anonymous posting. Although the idea has been simmering a while, this incident has brought it to a boil.

Early last month, two pictures of a woman holding a
puppy and an old man cleaning up after her dog in a subway train became the
topic of enraged Internet users.

Tens of thousands of comments criticizing the lady
for her irresponsibility were posted on Web sites.

Of course they criticized her behind pseudonyms and anonymity. She became infamous as the dogpoopgirl and her life was ruined forever (apparently).

From the Korea Herald:

Koreans may not be the most foul-mouthed of peoples of
the world but they definitely are the worst-mannered as far as their Internet
conversations are concerned. Behind the cover of anonymity, many Internet
communicators use curses, invective, expletives and all kinds of foul language
in Web postings. This is one reason strong enough for us to call for the
implementation of an "Internet real-name system."

The National Police Agency reports a sharp increase in
the number of cyber crimes, ranging from classic hackings to conspiracy in
extortions and murders. There are a growing number of "suicide cafes" through
which members exchange information on their common subject. The number of
detected cases was 1.19 million in 2002, 1.65 million in 2003 and over 2 million
last year.

I don't think Koreans are the worst-mannered when under the cover anonymity. I have screamed at several jaywalkers and bad drivers from my bike. Although clearly a foreigner, I am gone too quickly to be identified. (I remember yelling at a driver in Seoul who ran a red light- I was furious and could see the woman in the car was scared although I didn't recognize her. Two days later, when she identified herself in my class, I sure felt like a jerk! BTW, I did leap onto the road from the sidewalk so I wasn't driving the best, either.)

California is infamous for examples of road rage; using terrible driving to teach other bad drivers a lesson. A driver in a car is almost as purely an anonymous agent as 'hyori byfrnd14' is online. Cars, of course, can be traced by their license plates but only legal authorities can do that.

Korean police today can't seem to prevent illegal parking; where will they find the manpower to watch the internet. My other concern here involves access to our ID numbers. Will all newspapers and internet portals be given the full list of Korean and foreign IDs?

From the Times:
Names a few of the polls- what is the accuracy of an online poll? Did they use real names to ensure that one person-one vote? Oh, the Joongang describes the polls as unscientific.

Ho-ho-ho; I just inadvertently made a case for real names online.

Comment: do you introduce a `real name` system in a
country where there are so many people with the same name? I mean
many Kim, Mi-Jin`s are there in Korea? Will you use their id number too...or
will you have to assign random numbers like car license tags? And of course, no
one in charge of this system is likely to have thought of foreigners in all

This is already a problem; there are many Korean sites that are inaccessible to foreigners, our ID numbers are required but a different length than Korean numbers so are not accepted. BTW, this commenter posted under a false name.

From the Joongang:

He [Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan] also said that it is not
right to exercise freedom of expression without taking responsibility for

(Insert standard joke about politicians not taking responsibility for their actions here)

Several Korean Blogs have had foul mouthed visitors without real names who have spread their poison. Possibly, the real problem here is the speed with which one can reply to a comment. Nowadays, posting is like speaking except spoken words are usually temporary and so gone before too many people can take offence.

Korea often uses the 'good citizen' approach where enforcement would seem a more logical solution. For example, using a group of celebrities to encourage people to pay their taxes. For the internet, they will make legal restrictions? Bad internet manners would seem most suited to a good citizen approach (or a 'good parent' approach - the DogPoopGirl episode was brought on by students, I believe).

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