Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Youtube and the Real Name Verification Law

If you are foreigner and new to Korea and possibly excited to start your own blog or post videos of your new life for family members back home to see, you might be confused why Youtube will not let you.

You might see a green error message when you try to upload a videao after creating your youtube account.  It states the following both in Korean and English:

본인확인제로 인해 한국 국가 설정시 동영상/댓글 업로드 기능을 자발적으로 비활성화합니다.
We have voluntarily disabled this functionality on kr.youtube.com because of the Korean real-name verification law.
Likwise if you try and post any kind of comment on Youtube, you will get a simpler error message with no explanation.  Well then... what is the "Korean real-name verification law"?

If you can read Korean, then there is a blog post on Korean Youtube that explains the whole situation. Being that I cannot read Korean to the extent of understanding something as complicated at international law, I have just a translation of a portion of it.

The translated portion is YouTube explaining what has happened to their users.  I got this from an article titled "YouTube Korea Squelches Uploads, Comments" and it was published by news.cnet.com.
We have a bias in favor of people's right to free expression in everything we do. We are driven by a belief that more information generally means more choice, more freedom, and ultimately more power for the individual. We believe that it is important for free expression that people have the right to remain anonymous, if they choose. 
Because of Real Name Verification Law in Korea, we have voluntarily disabled comments and video uploads when using YouTube in Korea with the Korea country setting, so you will not be required to verify your identity. 
You will still be able to enjoy watching and sharing videos on YouTube. You may still upload videos and comments without proving your identity by choosing a non-Korean country setting the top of any YouTube page. 
We understand that this may affect your experience on YouTube. Thank you in advance for your understanding. We hope that you continue to enjoy and participate in the YouTube community. 
The Korean "Real Name Verification Law" was passed in early 2009 and requires "real-name verification" for Internet services with more than 100,000 different daily users.  Under this law, people in Korea must identify themselves with a name and their Korean Identification Number before they can upload video or post comments.  YouTube has no way of creating a system to comply with this ridiculous law.  It is not worth their time to create a system in cooperation with the South Korean government to verify that people creating YouTube accounts are who they say they are with authentic identification numbers.

It is creepy how big brotherish the cyber police of Korea are without Koreans objecting.  This law is an absurd violation of privacy.  This law does nothing to stop real criminals from committing crimes over the internet.  It just serves to data mine and collect massive amounts of information from private citizens with the goal of being abused in some way by the government down the road.  It is not paranoia, it is just the nature of governments.

Anyways... thankfully, Youtube left a massive, gaping loophole to get around this deliberately for people.  The problem is you have to know what to do so you can then post and upload on Youtube while using an ISP address in Korea.

Let me illustrate! When you first log on to Youtube, it will know if your ISP address is from South Korea and it will automatically recognize you as a member of the Youtube Korea Network.

On the bottom left of the page, it says Current Location: South Korea.  This used to be visible right away at the top left of the page.  So it has been moved to the bottom in the new layout and people need to know this has changed.  If you immediately try and post a comment or upload a video, you will get the error message.

Now, if you scroll back down to the bottom of the page on the left, you can click on "Show locations" and change your location to any other.  You can click any of them!  Korea is the only supposedly "free and democratic" country on this list that is foolish enough to make such a stupid law.  I usually just click "Worldwide." 
 Presto, you can post comments and upload videos again! 


Algernon charles said...

Given that anyone can set up an account using an email address and any first name and last name, how is Google to know what is real anyway?

Surely they should instead use their acknowledged intellect to apply profanity filters to comments, in conjunction with 'bleep' robots that regularly scour the comments for undesirable/unlawful content.

Forums and bulletin boards (remember them?) have always had some form of censorship - aka membership etiquette - so why shouldn't YouTube and other sites be the same.

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