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YouTube Halts Uploads and Comments In Korea 76

Posted by timothy
from the self-determination-for-some-values-of-self dept.
adeelarshad82 quotes AppScount.com with this disconcerting bit from what many people rank the world's best-connected country: "YouTube users in Korea are no longer able to upload new videos or comment on existing ones. The changes come in response to the country's recent Cyber Defamation Law. Enacted on April 1st, the law requires users of all sites with more than 100,000 uniques a day to provide real names and national ID numbers, in order to curb anonymous comments."
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YouTube Halts Uploads and Comments In Korea

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  • 'A series of tubes' (Score:5, Informative)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @08:46AM (#27568765)
    It's pretty easy to circumvent the restriction. All korean users have to do to keep uploading and commenting is to go in their profile and change their country of origin to something different than Korea.
    • While that may be the case in the youtube implementantion (i don't know if it is), it's not hard for them to check ip addresses
      • Still, an IP address check could be circumvented by using a proxy outside of the country.
        • an IP address check could be circumvented by using a proxy outside of the country

          True, but who would pay for such a proxy? YouTube could just block the popular open proxies using the same database that Wikipedia uses. Wikipedia tolerates proxies that require authentication [wikipedia.org], but YouTube is designed around video, which uses a lot more bandwidth than Wikipedia's text.

        • by Kadin2048 (468275)

          It certainly could, but it doesn't seem like YouTube wants to do that. They're doing the absolute minimum required as a result of S. Korea's asinine new law -- if users say they're not from S.K., then it's not YouTube's problem anymore.

          I suppose the S.K. government could try to force YouTube to do IP-based geolocation on everyone regardless of what country they specify, but that would be a pretty major escalation; they'd basically be in the position of having to threaten Chinese-style censorship in order t

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        FTA: "If users in South Korea switch their location to anywhere but Korea, however, uploading will once again be enabled. "

    • by Jugalator (259273)

      It's pretty easy to circumvent the restriction. All korean users have to do to keep uploading and commenting is to go in their profile and change their country of origin to something different than Korea.

      On the other hand, then I think Google has some protection there, in the form "but you can't expect us to look up users on the assumption they are Koreans if they haven't told us so".

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @08:54AM (#27568843)

    As soon as there could be a danger that someone could actually hear (or, gasp, listen to!) what you have to say, i.e. when there's something akin to an audience, you have to provide identification, so it's easier to ... to what, exactly? To track you down and send you behind bars for talking about a serious problem (aka "lying according to the powers that be") [slashdot.org]?

    I recommend a look at TOR [torproject.org]. That way you're from Russia, China, the Netherlands, Australia, the US... all at once. Often enough while visiting one single page.

    How do you think I get around another one of YouTube's favorites: "this video is not available in your country"? Fine. Since I can't change your policy, I change the country I come from. Today I feel very Russian.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The real sad part is that this seems bad to us, but if you scratch the surface you would probably find that there are many in the US and other nations that would publicly condemn this action, but would really want to see it in their own country. Remember the article about "Anonymous" recently?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You must be a terrorist. Hold on, I'll send Homeland Security your way. Thank you for participating in our Keep American Safe program, citizen. The Death Vehi... err Transportation Vehicle is en route to your location, please stand by for further orders, citizen.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You must be a terrorist. Hold on, I'll send Homeland Security your way. Thank you for participating in our Keep American Safe program, citizen. The Death Vehi... err Transportation Vehicle is en route to your location, please stand by for further orders, citizen.

        Fellow traveler, one's use of deprecated terminology indicates that one has failed to attend the mandatory bi-weekly Voluntary Political Harmony Vocabulary Building exercises for quite some time. Fear not for soon a Synchronization Chariot will arrive bearing Compliance Facilitators to assist one in bringing one's vocabulary into alignment to ensure that The Perfect Harmony of Goodful Oneliness is maintained.

  • by freedom_india (780002) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @08:59AM (#27568909) Homepage Journal

    Google's response to such limitations was to cease uploading altogether. "We have a bias in favor of freedom of expression and are committed to openness," YouTube Asia spokeswoman Lucinda Barlow, told Yahoo. "It's very important that if users want to be anonymous that they have that chance."

    It's surprising that Google ejects South Korea while continuing to hand over its user information to Brazil [cnet.com] and India [nartv.org] and kowtowing to Chinese for Censorship [theregister.co.uk].
    Very odd.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Maybe was it the first time they were confronted with a regression in free speech in a country where they operate...
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      In pursuit of their commitment to Openness, they are simply opening their user records.

      • The comment is fun, but the questions it raises are not.
        Somehow Google has amassed more information about more people in a period of time that is the quickest in the world.
        I bet even Gestapo did not have such detailed maps, photos, addresses and names of people it monitored.
        So much is owned by so Big a company with so little oversight...

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Somehow Google has amassed more information about more people in a period of time that is the quickest in the world.

          The "somehow" is not a surprise. All along people have been willing to trade their personal information for convenience. At the same time, I don't send my secret plans to rule the world through my gmail (woops, I guess it's not a secret any more! snicker, snort.) and if I did I would encrypt them.

          The simple truth is that all this information is already out there. Google is trying to give all the information to everyone. Sure, they want to rule the world. You just have to hope that they're more benevolent th

          • You just have to hope that they're more benevolent than the other guys trying to do the same

            Benevolent Dictator?
            Adolf Hitler was also benevolent: to his Aryan race. He was the most benevolent leader the Germans ever had (from 1933-1941)
            Hell they loved him very much.
            But to get the real picture you have to ask Jews and Poles and Slavs.
            Google may not be Hitler, or it may be. Remains to be seen.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Daengbo (523424)

      In reality, adding the ability to register (and verify) accounts based on the citizen ID number is probably just too much effort for Google. Many Korean websites are having a difficult time complying with the new law.

      From S. Korea

    • by acid06 (917409) *

      I pretty sure they complied to the court orders here in Brazil because, otherwise, the Brazilian directors/managers would actually go on trial for "obstruction of justice" or maybe even something like "facilitating child pornography". Those are *criminal* charges, not civil ones.

      I pretty sure you would comply too.

  • Of course! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Exitar (809068) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:00AM (#27568925)

    We all know that the Evil North Korean Communists are against freedom of speech!
    What? South Korea? Oh, never mind...

  • South Korea (Score:5, Informative)

    by benjamindees (441808) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:01AM (#27568961) Homepage

    This is South Korea. The democracy. The US client state. Requiring citizen ID numbers and outlawing anonymous free speech.

    Not North Korea. The communist dictatorship.

    Make no mistake. Since the article makes a point to keep saying "Korea", a significant portion of US readers will conflate the two.

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:13AM (#27569109) Homepage Journal
      Neither country's official name has the word "North" or "South". "South" Korea is officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), while "North" Korea is officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
      • by Zumbs (1241138)
        True, but most people say "China", not "Peoples Republic of China"; or "Germany", not "Federal Republic of Germany". In the real world, the names used by the press and known by the general public are North and South Korea, so it is a bit misleading to just write "Korea".
      • by alexo (9335)

        Neither country's official name has the word "North" or "South". "South" Korea is officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), while "North" Korea is officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

        Neither is "America" the official name of the USA.

        • Neither is "America" the official name of the USA.

          But "America" is the A in USA: "United States of America". "North" is part of "State of North Carolina" and "State of North Dakota", but not "Democratic People's Republic of Korea".

    • In democracies there is often a case where the minority gets a law passed because the majority is not paying attention, and then the law is reversed eventually.

      Policies like this may be part of that...once the average man is inconvenienced he suddenly becomes a politician.

    • by HungSoLow (809760)
      Yep, first thing I thought of when I read the article was "big deal... nothing new coming from the North Koreans..."
  • [...] to provide real names and national ID numbers, in order to curb anonymous comments.

    Can someone please explain just how does this prevent me from registering with a fake name/number combination? OK, suppose websites check the name against the number. How does this prevent me from using my next door neighbor's credentials? Or that other guy's I know? Or, if I work in the government and have access to the said database (if it exists), then why shouldn't I use a random name every time? Are they expecting records not ever to leak? I find the whole situation baffling.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ihavnoid (749312)

      Yes, you can lie and submit a fake name/number combination. How they implement the verification system is their problem. Some never check at all, many others just check the hash value (the national ID number has its last digit generated from a simple hash function), others check against other databases suchas ones from credit rating agencies, and ask for a photocopy of their ID card if it doesn't exist on the database. Sadly, records occasionally leak due to incompetent server admins, rouge employees, an

      • by SBacks (1286786)

        Is it just me, or does this "national ID number" sounds just like a social security number?

        • by Ironica (124657)

          How they implement the verification system is their problem. Some never check at all, many others just check the hash value (the national ID number has its last digit generated from a simple hash function)...

          Is it just me, or does this "national ID number" sounds just like a social security number?

          It's just you... SSNs don't have a check digit [wikipedia.org].

          Yes, yes, I know, that's not what you meant... but actually, they're not very similar at all. The US Government does NOT want everyone in creation using your SSN as an ID number. They'd rather you didn't use it to log onto every website or to look up your driver license. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center [epic.org]:

          The Social Security Administration recommends that you should ask the following questions before releasing the SSN:
          - Why your number is needed;
          - How your number will be used;
          - What happens if you refuse; and
          - What law requires you to give your number.

          For my part, I always put "decline to state" or DTS in the SSN field unless I see a clear need for the number, such as when filling out

    • by dokebi (624663)

      South Korean websites have demanded national ID numbers for many years, to "prevent fraud" and to "verify age" (The numbers include your date of birth). And to "curb abuse", misrepresentation or misuse of the numbers is punishable by hefty jail terms. I guess this became law at some point.

      Consequently, their world-class internet infrastructure is safe, but extremely insular. Foreigners, even if they speak Korean can't sign up for Korean sites because they lack ID numbers. And you can't simply pick random nu

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dargaud (518470)
        Why don't website in korean hosted out of the country spring up all over the place to provide the much needed anonymity ? After all there are a lot of korean speakers in the US who could stand to make a buck or two providing this service. Why don't they ?
        • Korean language websites hosted overseas solely for the purpose of circumventing government censorship have already sprung up years ago, specializing in the areas related to the, well you guessed right, pornography.

          The powers that be in (south) Korea are adopting measures similar to those employed by the Chinese gov't in blocking Falun Gung related internet traffic to block access to the aforementioned hardcore porn sites. I hear that some Koreans are even using the "ultrasurf", the very same tool that was

        • by Shihar (153932)

          Jumping over a border doesn't magically make you immune from your home nations laws. For instance, if a US citizen zips over to Thailand to have sex with 12 year old girls, when he gets back to the US they can be arrested like the event happened in the US. You can violate a US law even when you are not in the US.

          I would assume that the same is happening in South Korea. You can host where you like, but so long as you are a Korean citizen or live in Korea, they get to claim that their laws apply to you, an

          • by dargaud (518470)
            If this was applied extensively, you'd get arrested for having watched porn or drank beer some day or other as soon as you set foot in Saudi Arabia...
  • but i always wonder how they do these geographically isolated site changes...
    if its geoip it depends greatly on the database, but then again im certain the government
    would be more than willing to hand over a listing of subnets theyd like to see restricted to youtube.

    governments certainly make running a massive media service like youtube ludicrously difficult for admins.
    i cant imagine keeping a cluster strictly for china, and another strictly for korea, while my global cluster
    cant have any access to either a

    • but i always wonder how they do these geographically isolated site changes...

      In this case, they don't. They key off what country you say you're from in your profile. If you sign up with a South Korean IP but say you're American, you're fine. If you sign up with an American IP and say you're South Korean, you won't be able to post.

    • by Ironica (124657)

      dont misconstrue the comment to mean i endorse the censorship, im quite against it. I am however in awe
      of youtube and google engineers when it comes to bending to the social will of governments who insist crazy things like, say, 100% logging
      of everything however camp X-Ray must be censored out of any maps.

      I think that's the point; S. Korea has put in this requirement on ALL websites, and Youtube has said "Sorry, can't do that; see ya!" and blocked all users who identify as being from S. Korea.

    • by hellop2 (1271166)
      Ack! Learn punctuation. I can't do anything but overlook your post.
  • Most of such cases might be related to the economic protectionism measures under the pretense of the attack on free speech, rather than real attack on free speech.

  • What is happening to the Korean today is what happens to people working for Corporations when they suddenly are banned from checking their personal email, facebook, etc. They can stop for a while the dissent, but the level of bitterness increases gradually until a real crisis will happen.
  • by wjh31 (1372867) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:14AM (#27569117) Homepage
    in this case South korea, simply stating 'korea' is ambiguous, clarifying north/south really doenst take a moment
  • Princes all over Nigeria express wide support for the new law introduced by Korean legislature.

  • Read the comments section on any video on a topic to do with the conflicts in East Asia during WWII.

    The distrust, discrimination and downright hatred instilled in Koreans, Chinese and Japanese for each other laid bare for all the world to see.

    • It's not really 'racism' per se. Virtually every ethnic group in Asia is insular and xenophobic, but the post-WWII attitudes aren't racist claptrap like 'black people commit all the crimes'. The Japanese really were the Nazis of Asia. They had forced labor camps that worked people to death by design, mass murders, rape and pillage, created ghettos in the territories they occupied, etc. Those were all very real things, and what's worse the Japanese have made an art out of pretending it didn't happen. At leas
  • Do you folks think North Korea needs to enact a law for people exercising free speech? They'd just as easily be able to make them disappear with or without said law.
  • by YourExcellency (1532329) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @05:37PM (#27577801)

    You know what is really hilarious in this Youtube Korea fiasco?

    I'd like to think of google's decision to ban uploads for the users with the location set to "Korea" as a sort of tongue-in-cheek rebellion against the Draconian "Real Name Act", for even a relatively-computer-illiterate Korean is able to bypass the ban by simply changing the location setting. I even get the feeling that google is actually actively encouraging the bypass "hack", with kind advertisements of the effect achieved by changing one's region setting.

    Now, for ordinary Korean citizen youtubers, changing the location setting means just the one-time inconvenience of a few simple clicks in the preference panel and that's it. No harm done. Nothing to write home about.

    When your youtube account officially represents government agencies, however, it becomes a whole lot different story. Your region setting now takes on a symbolic meaning, and you would think twice before fiddling with the region setting , which is there for the whole wide world to see , to upload some promotional video clips.

    Imagine you're in the hypothetical year 2003, right before G. Bush is about to invade Iraq. In this alternate Earth, US enacted their own version of the "Real Name Act", forcing google to ban uploads from the users with the country setting of "US". The White House, eager to upload video clips emphasizing the threats the Iraqi-owned WMD -- still a vaporware even in this fantastic version of the alternate Universe -- will pose to the world, decides to change the country setting for the White House account to...

    ... "France" (Gasp) !

    "Get Real!", you would say. Well, this is what will be "really" happening to the Korean version of the White House (so called the "Blue House") youtube account, sort of.

    "Blue House" has been uploading weekly radio speech by the Korean President Lee, titled "Address to the Nation" to Youtube on the channel http://www.youtube.com/presidentmblee [youtube.com]. How was the blue house to handle the google decision? They couldn't just kill the "show", since they had officially pronounced that the Blue House would be "proudly" uploading the speeches to youtube long before they could anticipate this type of conundrum.

    Last week, on the heels of the upload ban decision by google, there followed an announcement by the blue house spokesperson that the gov't will continue the uploading, only this time, the account owner's country content preference will be set to...

    well, fortunately for them, one of the option was this :

    "Worldwide".

    Their explanation?
    "The president's speeches are uploaded for the benefit of the worldwide audience".
    Like anyone outside Korea would even care what Lee has to say ( Even the Koreans themselves mostly couldn't care less. Lee is largely a subject of taunt and ridicule amongst the Korean internet users.)

    The excuse becomes lamer when we find out that the content of the speeches almost exclusively consist of government propaganda on the internal affairs of Korea. Even the title itself is "Address to the Nation", not to the "World".

    I would classify this hilarious fiasco as a classic example of "Self-defeating Legislations".

    • by hellop2 (1271166)
      This was a very informative post. Obviously, YourExcellency has sinned so his default '1' score will prevent anyone from learning about the South Korean government's ironic location change.

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