9/06/2012

Constitutional Court of Korea Declares Internet Real-Name Online Identification System Unconstitutional

The Korean Constitutional Court, unanimously, declared Clause 5 of Article 44 of the Act on the Promotion of Information and Communication Network Utilization and Protection implemented in 2007 unconstitutional in late August of this year.  This Korean law was passed in reaction to suicides of Korean celebrities.  These celebrities were criticized online for various improprieties and alleged improprieties.  The law required, on certain websites, the logging into the website with one's national identification number, thus, limiting the ability to speak anonymously.

Numerous Constitutional Law scholars and free speech advocates emphatically argued that the law was nothing more than an attempt to stifle political speech.  Since, naturally, posters would fear the wrath of the government if criticism was levied against the government or heads of Korean corporations.

The Constitutional Court, in striking down the law, noted that: "Restriction on freedom of expression can be justified only when it is clear that it benefits the public interest."  This vague tests, inter alia, was applied to strike down the law.
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Sean Hayes, IPG's Co-Chair of the Korea Practice Team, may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com