Anonymity, Privacy, and Expressive Equality: Name Verification and Korean Constitutional Rights in Cyberspace

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John M. Leitner
Issue Date
School of Law, Seoul National University
Journal of Korean Law, Vol.14 No.2, pp. 167-212
Real Name VerificationFreedom of ExpressionAnonymityEqualityPrivacyCyber-DefamationCyber-ContemptInternet LawCyber LawData Security
Koreas introduction of a name verification system for users of certain Korean websites

raised a variety of policy- and rights-based concerns. After several years of political, social, and legal debates, the Korean Constitutional Court ruled that this system, as implemented, unconstitutionally restricted certain basic constitutional rights, including freedom of expression. While the Constitutional Court exercised judicial restraint and employed a prudential approach in its decision, it failed to consider the primary constitutional harms

imposed by name verification. I propose that the best defense for anonymous expression, and the most compelling argument against legal identification requirements online, is that Korean citizens are entitled to freedom from prejudicial governmental burdens on their expressive opportunities. Expression is

central to participation in a free democracy, forming a powerful basis for the advancement of the rights of otherwise marginalized individuals and groups. It is also essential to ones dignity within the society. Imposing an ex ante identification requirement effectively undermines the

Internets unique power for facilitating expression. Mandatory name verification and other similarly burdensome obstacles to online expression disparately impact vulnerable groups, and therefore violate constitutional rights to expression, privacy, and equality. Koreas unique

experiences with name verification are instructive for other nations facing the tension between free expression and competing social objectives.
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College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원)The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) Journal of Korean LawJournal of Korean Law Volume 14 Number 1/2 (2014/2015)
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