South Korea Passes Cyber Defamation Law

South Korean "Dog Poop Girl"

South Korean "Dog Poop Girl"

In America the right to make anonymous comments is protected. In fact, that is why many courts will make a victim of defamation establish a prima facie case of defamation before requiring a website to respond to a subpoena.

South Korea is not so tolerant, and effective April 1 anonymous posting became illegal under certain circumstances. The new law is called the “Cyber Defamation Law.” The law provides that any Internet user making a comment or upload to a website that has over 100,000 unique visitors a day must append their real name to the comments they make. Sites must identify whether they meet the number of visitors threshold. If they do, the registration process must require the visitor wishing to post something to enter his national identification number.

The Cyber Defamation Law appears to have been a reaction to a story about the “dog poop girl.”  A women’s dog did his business on public transit, and she failed to clean it up.  Someone took pictures of her sitting near the dog’s leavings, posted them on the Internet, and she became a public pariah, to the point that she had to quite school and move away from her home.  Lawmakers in South Korea reasoned that the new law would make those who post Internet messages more responsible for what they say and do on-line because they can now be pursued legally.

America is unlikely to pursue such an approach anytime soon, but the case illustrates that the problems of Internet defamation and bullying are very real, and governments are struggling to find ways to deal with them.

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Aaron Morris
Morris & Stone, LLP
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