Nth Chamber Prevention Law fires fire for censorship and invasion of privacy
A legislative review of the Telecommunications Business Act came into effect on Friday, forcing internet platforms with annual sales of 1 billion won ($ 848,800) or those with more than 100,000 daily users to commit to removing illegal content from their servers.
The overhaul has been dubbed the Nth Chamber Prevention Law after a high-profile criminal case that revealed women were coerced into obscene acts, and images and videos of victims were illegally sold and shared in forums pay-per-view chat on Telegram.
Yet the legislation came under heavy criticism after it was passed, as many internet users reported that their posts and posts were removed despite the rules being followed and that the content was legally safe.
Some users have shared that even a photo of kittens has been censored for possibly breaking the law. They said the law, pushed by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, only increased government control over the population and undermined constitutionally guaranteed free speech.
Contrary to rumors, the law only allows platforms to make efforts to prevent the sharing of illegal content, and it does not allow internet platforms to crack down on individual chat rooms.
As a precaution, some online communities have set up automatic filtering processes for content shared on open platforms. But that meant people had to wait for their post to be reviewed before sharing it publicly.
Even though platform companies were given a six-month grace period before official enactment, operators say they are still struggling to keep up with the new requirements and have asked for more time to come up with stabilized systems.
Many continued to point out the loopholes in the Nth Chamber’s prevention law.
Telegram, the encrypted messaging platform on which the videos and personal information of the Nth Chamber victims were broadcast, was also not included in the criteria for online platforms falling within its scope.
The enacted law only requires screening efforts from platforms whose operations are officially registered in South Korea. Telegram, a cloud-based instant messaging system, has its operations center based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and does not have an operational office in South Korea.
Yoon Suk-yeol, the presidential candidate of the main opposition, the People Power Party, said on Sunday that his party would seek to change related laws to ensure that no privacy breaches are violated while preventing the sharing of illegal content in the online sphere.
“The Nth room prevention law lacks the capacity to prevent another Nth room crime, but it raises concerns about absolute majority censorship of innocent people,” Yoon said in a Facebook post.
“Article 18 of the Constitution stipulates that the secrecy of everyone’s correspondence must not be violated.
The ruling party insisted that the law remain unchanged, as freedom of expression should not be guaranteed to such an extent as to infringe the rights of others. Presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung defended the law, saying it does not amount to censorship.
“Many have denounced the law as censorship, but I don’t view it that way,” Lee said in a meeting with students on Saturday. “Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are good, but all cases of freedom and rights have limits.”
The ruling party also denounced the People Power Party for not changing its position until after the law was criticized, with both parties jointly supporting it during the legislative process.
The law had garnered 170 votes out of 178 for formal adoption in the National Assembly in May 2020, with 50 votes coming from the United Future Party, the predecessor of the People Power Party.
By Ko Jun-tae ([email protected])