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April 13, 2009

YouTube Korea Respects Privacy

YouTube's Korean site no longer allows users to create accounts, upload videos and post comments, after a local law started to require popular web sites to ask for the real names of their users.

"In a surprise decision Thursday, Google blocked South Korean users from uploading videos and posting comments on YouTube's Korean-language site in order to avoid government requirements for the real-name registration of users. Korean Internet users now have to submit their resident registration codes, the Korean equivalent of social security numbers, and names, before posting files or commenting on Web sites with more than 100,000 daily visitors, including YouTube. The new rules kicked in April 1, but Google had been refusing to enforce real-name verification for YouTube users, reluctant to bend its rules only for Korea," reports KoreaTimes.

Apparently, one of the reasons for enforcing this law was to discourage the anonymous comments that make personal attacks to public figures. "The purpose of this mandate could be pretty noble - to discourage those dangerous evil trollings. But what if the government starts to use this feature to hunt down whoever makes anti-government-ish comments (whose definition can sometimes be blurry)? Or use this mandate as a way to deter people from making any criticism on the current government," asks Web 2.0 Asia.

YouTube suggests users that want to upload videos and post comments to change their country setting.

"Google Korea has ... always (taken) the stance that Google respects local law/regulation but at the same time we continue trying to promote freedom of speech on the Internet," Google spokeswoman Lois Kim said last month. Of course, it's easier for Google to protect the freedom of speech in Korea, where its services aren't very popular, than in countries like China or Germany.

Further reading:
Google Korea's blog post
YouTube Korea's blog post

{ via Blogoscoped Forum }


  1. Good for Google - that sounds like an absolutely atrocious law. I feel for the people this is going to affect, but respect Google for sticking to their guns.

    Makes you wonder who in the world approved this law? There are more than enough ways for a government to track a user if they suspect them of malicious activities online, but forcing the actual websites to store not only real names, but the equivalent of social security codes just seems so incredibly open to abuse and fraud. What happens when one of these sites gets hacked? Some hacker can effectively assume the full identity, down even to social security number, of any given member of that site? Methinks someone didn't think this law through before rubber stamping it.

  2. Actually, Youtube is very popular in Korea as well as China and Germany.

  3. >"But what if the government starts to use this feature to hunt down whoever makes anti-government-ish comments (whose definition can sometimes be blurry)?"

    What if? It already does! The last presidential election under Noh Mu Hyun's Administration regularly saw people posting political opinions on Daum and Naver forums seeing them deleted abruptly and them getting a personal visit from the Koren National Police. This is done because they "do not want baseless rumor to effect the presidential election". This is entirely unacceptable in a modern democracy.

  4. Congrats to Google for this! The dilemma for Google and other major players in the design and function of the Internet is that it is truly a new evolutionary landscape. A man-made landscape which will lay down social patterns of behavior and expectation that may well persist with very long-term repercussions for the human condition.

    2-minute Video Technology & The Decision LandscapeWhy ChagoraChagora AssumptionsPrototype & FAQ CHAGORA

  5. "It's very important that if users want to be anonymous that they have that chance." Where?

  6. stupid,,,,, am not korean but i live in korea for i cant upload my videos and comments !

  7. Yes, you can. Change the country/language options at the bottom of the page.