Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thick Skinned

In the United States, stories about cyberbullies often focus on interactions between minors who are assumed to lack the emotional defenses and social skills to ward of hateful comments, but in Korea, as the Los Angeles Times explains in Suicide of South Korean actress fuels Internet debate, lawmakers also look at the consequences of griefing and flaming for adult Internet users. Apparently legislators are considering punishments for cyber-insults after the death of a celebrity in response to rumors about her role in another possible suicide.

Choi's suicide came at a time when government officials are pushing to introduce new clauses in communication laws to enforce harsher punishment for cyber-insults. The country is also preparing to extend an existing law that requires Web service providers to confirm social security numbers and the real names of users.

However, as the article also points out, the cyber-insult law could be easily used against those who criticize the government, in a country with a history of decades of political repression in the recent past.

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