In a somewhat surprising move for privacy, the Korean authority of communications has decided that Facebook is not allowed to operate on Korean soil because of the privacy infringements anticipated for Korean users.
I raised an eyebrow when I read it. Having visited Korea earlier this autumn I remember young people of Korea similarly raising eyebrows at me when I didn’t understand how a state authority could demand that users who want to put content on a website give up their home address, full name and social security number (to stop cyberbullying, of course).
In Korea blogging, social community participation, microblogging or adding content to video communities requires registration by a public authority or the website maintainer. For this reason, Youtube as a Korean phenomenon has never caught on. Some users bypass the Korean restrictions on internet participation by using foreign proxies or filter bypasses. I guess this blog exemplifies that.
Because of my surprise I wrote to professor Keechang Kim at South Korea University, one of the most prestigious centres of higher education in South Korea. He replied:
KCC is merely being ridiculous. They do not understand that Facebook does not ”require” users to submit information which can point to the offline identity of a person. The only ”required” information, to sign up with Facebook, is email address and it is entirely up to the email service provider how to protect the ”personal” information of their email account holders.
KCC lives in, and imagines, a world where service provider invariably collects user’s resident’s registration number and postal address. KCC does not understand ”anonymity”!
What is even more ridiculous is that KCC purports to be a police in the cyber world. KCC claims a sort of universal jurisdiction. Imagine a world where each service provider is subject to regulatory demands of all sorts of countries in the world such as Korea, China, Singapore, Burma, etc, etc.
Pathetic, these idiotic bureaucrats…
In Swedish, that statement would class as ord men inga visor, the English equivalent of which is not known to me. Roughly translated as ”words, but not music”.
Well. The KCC observations are probably caused by the privacy debates around Facebook in Europe and the US. It is reasonably possible to have an ”anonymous” facebook account, but this independent study shows that the primary concern at least used to be what other users see, rather than what the company finds out. It also shows that users are perfectly capable of finding stuff out about other users even when those have expressed a desire for the first group not to do so. In Sweden, the Facebook friend adding causes some concerns for bosses and co-workers, but again from concerns of other users rather than the company. Facebook the company does profiling for advertisement reasons, apparently rather successfully for views (what about purchases?), but I find that you can block them. The blocking tip is old though, anyone knows anything more recent? Also, I was, and am still, curious about how these ads generate any kind of cash flow at all. Who clicks? Who buys?
Professor Kim has also written about the Korean government’s surprising, strategical state-effort to lock users in with Microsoft software on OS and browser-level within the scope of their open government project. I’m waiting for him to write a lengthier post on the recent KCC fluff.