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Asia and Pacific Region Forum

Will Google comply with Korea's real-name verification law?

 5:25 am on Apr 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

It will be interesting to see how Google decides to deal with this issue. Should they cave in to the South Korean government, or 'show some backbone' as described?

Google Says It Is Still Examining Korea's Real-Name Verification Law [siliconvalleywatcher.com]

On April 1 Google was required by law to ban South Korean users from posting videos or leaving comments on YouTube unless they use real names. The law states that South Korean web sites with at least 100,000 daily visitors must force users to register with verifiable real names. It would be the first time for Google to implement such a system, in any of its operations around the world.


GrendelKhan TSU

 4:41 am on Apr 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

apparently the answer is:


(see latest post here: [webmasterworld.com...] )



 2:09 am on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

GrendelKhan TSU found this article and linked to it in the other thread [webmasterworld.com]:

Google refuses South Korean government’s real-name system [english.hani.co.kr]

Google’s Korea Unit has decided to refuse South Korean government’s Internet regulations. Based on the Law on Internet Address Management, South Korea implements a “real-name” system, which requires a Web site to confirm users’ personal information such as their real names and resident registration numbers when they want to post comments or upload content.

An amendment to the law, South Korea’s Act on the Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and User Protection, went into effect on April 1 expanding the scope of sites subject to the real name registration system from requiring those with 300,000 users per day to websites who have at least 100,000 to comply. Analysts indicate that this would mean that Google, the world’s largest internet company, would be required to comply by restricting South Korean users from uploading video clips or leaving comments on its Korean version of its video-sharing Web site YouTube Korea (kr.youtube.com) unless they use real names.

Google’s Korea unit, however, has found a way around being subjected to the country’s Internet real-name system, voluntarily shutting down some of the Web site’s functions.


 2:21 am on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Roll on:
...until you can divide the daily user count down to 300k...


 11:28 pm on Apr 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Or just block South Korea until their citizens revolt and force their government to get back to their senses... countries throwing tantrums over the freedom of the web as if they had any legislation power on the rest of the world makes me laugh. Australia comes to mind.

I hope Google does not back down.


 8:19 pm on Apr 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Shoot yea, Australia and the U.K. come to mind to be sure! They are getting to be like the old Soviet Union man. Funny how things change...perplexing is putting it nicely.

GrendelKhan TSU

 8:03 pm on Apr 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Heh... thanks for the link up bill ^_^

Well looks the smellystuff is about to the automatic wind maker, so to speak. :p

Google vs S.Korea Govt.: Round 2!
S. Korea *will* clash with Google over Internet regulation differences) [english.hani.co.kr]

KCC official... "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,”

*Sigh.* Now we start the "worse before it gets better" part of the movie.

KCC network policy official Hwang Cheol-jeung says that the commission will be examining whether or not Google has engaged in illegal activities in any of the various services it operates in South Korea. .... including search and keyword-based advertising, .... illegal practices in areas such as internet obscenity, unwholesome advertising, and copyright infringements.

This does not bode well.... I can just see this dood doing one "SafeSearch is Off" search and going ballistics. ROFL.

Get your torches people... we going are on a Google witch hunt! Yay!

Also, sounds like we are going to have some potential cross-over into the overture registration issue:
Korean Business Registration Number Now Required on Websites [webmasterworld.com]

In a broader scope:
I don't see how this is supposed to be in line with Korean govt's constant globalization initiatives and foreign investor package incentives it keeps pushing. but hey, why let that little contradiction stop anyone.

On the webmaster practical level:
Adsense / adwords is already a nightmare to deal with because of google's aggressive geo-location without these guys potentially forcing G to make things even worse.

My favorite part is:
plans were underway to “send a message of severe dismay to Google about their terribly commercial approach with which it has tried to deceive people by a transparent guile.” He also said that he planned to meet with the head of Google Korea to determine the company’s true motives

This is just sad. Anyone else hear a dramatic (chipmunk?) soundtrack and "DUM DUM DUM!" sound effect when they read that? or was that just me? =P

"I will discover your true motives google! I will! Then you will be mine! Myuahahahaah!"
< shakes fist in air >

I wasn't kidding when I said, the govt was in "gotta do SOMETHING!" mode, but I didn't think they be this blatantly idiotic.

"when all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail"

seems Google ANYTHING is the new nail.

I mean, its one thing to pursue this lame forced real-name policy...its another to try to enforce it on international internet entities. Such a freakin waste of time and money and resources.

Last, it seems when I said,
* its clear, someone has an agenda and sees this as ticket up the political ladder.

That now I've found out who that someone is....
(seems I was asking around in the wrong division. figures)

Grand National Party lawmaker Na Kyung-won said that with Google’s measure, “They are speaking as though Korea is a backwards Internet nation that is intensifying its Internet censorship.

hey, you said it, bud. If the real-name-law shoe fits... :rolleyes:

yah. way to make it not sound personal, o' champion of Korea. We were doing just fine with our "digital advanced, highest broadband penetration in the world" image till you apparently started gettin all lawmaker uppity on us.

He makes it sound like Serge personally went into his house and spit on his Pentium III computer.


(btw, if I stop posting about this issue suddenly..
someone call my UN lawyer. I'm going on the lamb! lol)

-- so sayeth Grendel"Thanks for knocking down Korea's internet image down 5 steps KCC"Khan{TSU}


 10:26 pm on Apr 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

As has been mentioned before, Google doesn't really have much to lose in Korea in terms of market share. What's their latest standing?

There was also some talk about a popular uprising against this regulation among Korean bloggers. That could help Google's position if they're looked upon as a safe haven for the user's privacy. Blogger does have a Korean version.

What else does Google Korea stand to gain from this move?


 11:00 pm on Apr 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

Face it- what the Koreans are really upset about is the fact that Google kow-towed to Chinese Internet regulations, but refuses to do the same to South Korea. It's a huge loss of face.

I see it as a lose-lose situation from the beginning for Google.

Somehow, there's a certain amount of irony over the fact that the Hankyoreh article is displaying AdSense ads. :)

[edited by: LifeinAsia at 11:02 pm (utc) on April 17, 2009]


 12:20 am on Apr 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

The Chinese regulations had been in place for some time, and the government there is not democratic as South Korea is supposed to be. This is a new regulation and perhaps Google is willing to test the limits a bit. Won't the government try to use the courts for this?

GrendelKhan TSU

 3:09 am on Apr 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Though its true google a tiny market share. It still has plenty to lose here.

market share for search is still like 2%, but adsense does well enough here and is hefty profits for G.
eg: G provides top listing sponsored links for Korean's number two portal Daum, which is no small thing (about 90% market penetration, 30 millionish views).

And we all know the only thing that REALLY matters to G is their Ad Rev. They ARE raking in millions as is from the market.

So if these Korean suits make waves about "deceptive advertising" and click fraud and indecent sites, etc, which sounds like they may... well then its an major issue for G.
Yes, action via legal channels and via political pressure.

That notwithstanding, Korea is still an important market for Google, even without its search market share. And they have said so publically many times (that korea is and continue to grow as a strategically important, if not market share important, market).

Remember, most of the new SERP result rollouts (new mixed search results are from Korea's combined search [webmasterworld.com] for example) recently have all come from Korea's R&D center. That well of ideas could start to dry up if they have to focus on legal battles.

G also just bought a Korean blog company (1000x times better functionality than blogger, imo). I expect to see its technology implemented via blogger (rather than make it new thing in the future). If that becomes target for real-name registers too... then so much for online asylum via G.

And most saliently, G korea has been pushing for Youtube pretty hard here... with deals with IPTV and telcos and device integrations.

Ironically, Youtube was arguably doing the best of G's offerings here (recently spiked more cause of this issue), I think they actually hit double digit market share (like 10%+ here and there) and are in the mid range of top 10 for entertainment (vid) sites. They are still the runt, but it was there best play for market growth and it seemed to be going well.

Ie: Make no mistake, G is heavily invested in teh market.
And this is not the simple write off that it may seem by just looking at search market share.

GrendelKhan TSU

 3:09 am on Apr 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

doh (sorry double post +_+) but wanted to break it up..

In the short run, as I mentioned... within Korea market its a big kick in teh groin. IF the govt follows up on threats to go on its google is evil witch hunt. There will be potential for major loss of revenues, advertisers and effect tons of services and investments here.

So, for corporate G... tough to say. Yes, loss may be small scale compared the Corporate Big G balance sheet. But in todays economy you can bet its not light decision to fight this. Its more than a just a thorn in the side kind of issue ...

loss of millions in Adsense profits and growing Youtube share in one of the most (contrary to this issue) advanced internet markets in the world?

So now that we know Big G has plenty to lose.

What you appropriately asked...
What else does Google Korea stand to gain from this move?

is the real question.

Notwithstanding staying consistent with its corportate policies/missions, G has little to gain from this in SHORT RUN.

Again, whether my posit that, in the end, G will be "one step backwards, two step forward" by ultimately offering the only true "free alternative" to local portals remains to be seen... but it does seem to clarify a niche for G that might very well be worth exploiting.

Put on an innocent smile, shug their shoulders, dawn angel halos all around, sit back and offer default "safe havens" to outraged internet community, while the govt lawmorons.. sorry... lawmakers run around screaming bloody murder and hawking their ultimately doomed policies wares.

Defensive stance of plausible denial might be all it NEEDS to do in the end.

There was also some talk about a popular uprising against this regulation among Korean bloggers. That could help Google's position if they're looked upon as a safe haven for the user's privacy. Blogger does have a Korean version.

interestingly, the Daum cafe that was spearheading that (5000 of the most politically vocal bloggers out there)... and has disappeared. +_+ I check it today it was just... poof.

Don't know if it got taken down by Daum or moved. I'm sure its not gone completely. Maybe over to g's new blog property already? I'll have to dig. But its somewhat telling that the original one is down already.

This is a new regulation and perhaps Google is willing to test the limits a bit. Won't the government try to use the courts for this?

That about says it. its a staring contest at this point. Be interesting to see who blinks first... but the gauntlet has most definitely been thrown.

Yes, the stage for battle will ultimately have to be the courts.

But I imagine the current ego/pride, huffing and puffing will be the spotlight for the public eye for sometime to come.

should be fun (as long my accounts still work loggin in via the US. heh).

So sayeth Grendel"shaking his head and sighing"Khan{TSU}

GrendelKhan TSU

 7:51 pm on Apr 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google held a press conference on the issue and publically stated it will be sticking to its guns despite the govt's huffing and puffing.

props to G. yay!

“Korea’s ‘real name login system’ is not helpful to anyone, especially Internet users. For all our services which have not yet launched in Korea, we plan to take action the same way that we did with YouTube,” Lee said.

The move is seen as Google’s way to abide by local rules but at the same time stand behind its free expression principle.

article1 [joongangdaily.joins.com]

also he made comments towards other legal services affected by recent law changes. (eg: gmail)
n addition, Lee said that the company would not necessarily comply with all requests from law enforcement authorities for private information of users of Google's e-mail service Gmail. He said that as Gmail is a service designed for the global market that has not officially been launched in Korea and the servers are located outside the country, it is unclear to what extent local laws apply to the company's services.

However, Lee said that the company would judge each case on moral grounds and that it would comply with such requests if they concerned clearly criminal activities.

article 2 [koreaherald.co.kr]

actually, that made me wonder what would happen if ppl were using Google Apps for their corporate or group email... (I know some that do). ie: companies with english or korean speaking employees that use it to reap benefit of dual language interface.


too bad he spoiled it with his own posturing:

“It won’t be long before Google becomes one of the top three search engines in Korea,” Lee said.

gotta love the impressive, but very "fuzzy math"...

considering 3rd place still means only like a 10% market share (the gap between 1 and 3 is that huge) and that still means like another 20 yrs or so... cause that's what a continued "47% increase over last years growth" would take to get to 10%. And that's WITH the addition of two major new services (maps, igoogle, gmail) as he states. So, that means google search in its own... grew what percent?


[edited by: GrendelKhan_TSU at 8:03 pm (utc) on April 22, 2009]

[edited by: bill at 1:49 am (utc) on April 23, 2009]
[edit reason] fix URL [/edit]


 1:57 am on Apr 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

I don't know all the implications of this new law, but from what I have read it seems that Google is taking proper action.

The YouTube strategy could make Google's service a stand-out compared to domestic providers who would have no way to side-step this law.

The bigger concern would be Gmail. I don't see how the Korean law could have jurisdiction. Not all Korean speakers live in South Korea. ;)

GrendelKhan TSU

 2:54 am on Apr 23, 2009 (gmt 0)


No way google didn't research every angle legal standpoint before moving with the decision. That's whats really pissing ppl off I suspect. heh.

its a total pride thing.

And right or wrong, that doesn't mean that that make G korea's life harder though with constant albeit useless litigation and political pressure, just cause they can.

But for its great free advertising for G and forcing people to take sides...which is good for G as well. Read: even if "only" half agree with google, that still more than 5x the amount that even barely knew (other than a big foreign company) much less used Google.

prediction: Big G FTW.

Again, we gotta see whether the one-step back, one-step forward theory will to hold true or how long it will take to reap any BENEFIT from this.... but for now, it does seem the obvious path. however long that path is.

If Naver is the captain of the football team, so to speak, then G may finally move up from beging the geeky foreign exchange student... to the cool, rebellious worldly guy who don't no crud from "the man".



The bigger concern would be Gmail. I don't see how the Korean law could have jurisdiction. Not all Korean speakers live in South Korea.

good point. and yah, gmail... servers are in US as well...so really don't see how it even be relevant. But I guess that's the point of making a stink. As long as someone smells it. =X

so sayeth Grendel"currently hanging with other geeks in the back of the class"Khan


GrendelKhan TSU

 10:06 am on Apr 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

and so it begins:

``Foreign Internet services are now a clear attraction. A number of my friends are also switching their e-mail services to Gmail and Hotmail, which they find as flaky but convenient.''

Korean Internet companies ...
can only hope that Internet users like Park, who are choosing to migrate to foreign services in search of safe havens, don't represent the first of many.

article [koreatimes.co.kr]

not too bad an overview of the issue except for the slip up about Google Answers... I assume he meant Yahoo Answers. heh.

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