The Hankyoreh newspaper is reporting some interesting background information on the fallout after Google refused to allow YouTube to accept the Korea Communication Commission's real-name system for posting comments or uploading content to popular web sites in South Korea. The situation is showing signs of developing into a clash between the South Korean government, which is seeking to extend the application of its internet regulations to all Internet businesses, and the world’s largest Internet company, which is trying to maintain its principle of “freedom of expression” based on the option of exercising the “freedom of anonymous expression” on the Internet that it maintains elsewhere throughout the world.
An official at the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), who wished to remain nameless, said Thursday that the KCC was “in an uproar” over Google’s April 9 decision. “The people higher up said that they could not just leave Google alone and told us to find something to punish them with, so the related team is researching possible illegalities,” the official said.
On April 9, Google announced that it would be blocking users with South Korean nationality from uploading content and posting comments on YouTube Korea’s Web site, effectively rejecting the implementation of the real name system.
Industry experts suggest that the differences between the South Korean government and Google over how to apply the new Internet regulations reveals the fallacy of creating regulation that applies to only specific geographical regions on the Internet, which is a “network of networks.” According to the government, the difficulty it faces is that it is impossible to regulate Internet policy if it leaves cases like Google’s alone. Jeon Byeong-guk, director of the Internet consulting company SearchMaster.co.kr, says that the government and Google “have come face-to-face in a situation where there are no points of agreement.” Jeon added, “Since Google does not have a large share of the South Korean market, the question is what is to be gained from the government simply cracking its whip.” I would only add that it is not only Korea, but governments around the world that face this challenge in their efforts to regulate the internet. The inherently global and interlinked character of the internet demands global approaches to governance and regulation.