FromThe New York Times:
“SEOUL, South Korea — In a major victory for free speech activists in South Korea, a top court on Thursday ruled unconstitutional a law that required Internet users to verify their identity before posting comments on major local Web sites. […]
The regulation was adopted amid widespread concern that Internet users were deluging Web sites with malicious and defamatory comments and false rumors; in a few cases, such statements were blamed in the suicides of celebrities.
But free-speech advocates condemned the rule, arguing that the government was using perceived abuses as a convenient excuse to discourage political criticism. They feared that people would censor themselves rather than provide their names, which would make it easier for the government to find and possibly punish them.”
Some points to note here:
Unlike the real-name debate in Germany (see below), the South Korean discussion was focused narrowly on libel. German officials worry about criminals using anonymity to shield their nefarious criminal activities. In South Korea, the primary target of the proposed real-name policy seems to have been the ordinary web user who hides behind anonymity to launch slanderous verbal attacks.
Also interesting is the strategy taken by the opponents: the free speech activists. Their main grievance here was not that government was censoring web users - but rather that government policies would encourage self-censorship.
The issue of self-censorship is also on the table in Myanmar, where the regime just ended direct media censorship.