Constitutional Court of Korea Declares Real Name Verification Unconstitutional

The Korean Constitutional Court, late last year, declared the real name identification verification requirement in the Act on the Promotion of Information and Telecommunications Network Use and Protection of Information that required some providers of Internet services with forums, bulletin boards and the like to confirm the identity of all users prior to the user being allowed to post comments on the site unconstitutional.

The Act specifically required any company or individual who operated any type of website with over 100,000 visitors per day, on average, that allowed users to create content, to confirm the identity of the person prior to allowing them to post content on the site.

Over 130 sites were required to obtain confirmation of the identity of users intending to post comments.

The Constitutional Court ruled, in part, that the confirmation of identity requirement is unconstitutional since:

1.  Other less restrictive means are available to identify those that violate the rights of others;
2.  Little evidence exists establishing that the requirement leads to a substantial reduction in the quantity of illegal information online; and
3.  There is a potential risk that personal information of users could be misused.

The vast majority of sites have chosen to maintain, voluntarily, the real name verification system and we advise anyone intending to scrap their present system to consider the numerous interrelated laws that have not been deemed unconstitutional prior to changing their user identification policy.

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Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the only non-Korean to have worked as an attorney for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.