South Korea to abandon "real name" internet policy

South Korea's plan to abandon its "real-name system" for Internet users was reaffirmed after the country's worst online security breach in history. In July, personal data for about 35 million users of the popular South Korean social sites Nate and its subsidiary Cyworld were stolen in a large-scale hacking attack.

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security is set to report to ruling party lawmakers about comprehensive measures to protect personal information online, including abolishing the real-name registration system, Yonhap news agency said. The real-name system, introduced in 2007, requires people to use their real names and resident registration numbers when making online postings on websites with more than 100,000 visitors per day

Google+ and Facebook, however, still require them. Oh snap!


  1. Let me be the first to welcome the South Korean “Heywood Jablowme” to the Interwebs: 환영합니다 Heywood Jablowme!

  2. I don’t recall Google+ or Facebook requiring the resident registration number (equivalent to US SSN or Canadian SIN). That seems like the real problem, not the name.

  3. I don’t understand the rationale behind the system. There will always be a way around this system for the ones who want anonymity, including hacking other people’s accounts. If their government requires authentication involving them as a central authority, then of course, they’re gonna get hacked; there’s an incentive to do so and complex computer systems always have vulnerabilities.

    Unfortunately, how exactly they got hacked is unavailable, but in a world where RSA got hacked by a malicious Excel file, I’m not ruling out “careless employee” as a cause.

  4. I don’t get the hate-on for facebook or G+ having a real name policy. It’s a stated part of the service they are trying to provide. I completely understand if that makes it a service that some people don’t want to participate in but not the opposition to the very existence of the service.

    Every time an issue of people behaving badly on the internet comes up everyone nods their heads sagely and acknowledges that such things are a natural result of human nature+anonymity. There are entire chunks of the internet dedicated to encouraging such things, for good or for ill. So why can’t a corner of the web dedicate itself to non-anonymous discourse? Where you have to stand behind what you post, at least to those you share it with?

    No one can force you to use such a service. And if they grow pervasive enough that you can’t ignore them and still participate in normal society that only speaks to the expectations of your peers.

    1. The two most popular restaurants don’t have wheel chair ramps. But hey, going out to eat is optional. So all those folks in wheel chairs can just go to the crumby restaurant that at least has wheel chair ramps.

      It’s about accessibility.

      I see friends and even family saying intolerant stuff on Facebook all the time. Anonymity isn’t the cause of bad behavior. It’s not being able to see the hurt in someone’s eyes or a furrowed brow and grimace of disgust that tell them they’ve gone too far. It’s someone posting a terrible homophobic joke and forgetting that one of the 100 people in their network is their 16 year old gay nephew.

      1. It’s not the source of bad behavior but it certainly bolsters bad behavior and makes it more socially accepted as Ryan pointed out as an aspect of internet anonymity.
        And your metaphor is WAY off base. Huge difference in someone NOT being able to use a service because of preference and NOT being able to use it because they…can’t use it.

        1. My metaphor isn’t way off base. There are people with valid reasons for not using their real name like activists, marginalized people and abuse victims. There are instances where a person using their real name could put them in harms way or open them up to discrimination.

          1. Still doesn’t mean they can’t use the network, but that they may want to not divulge everything about them. I’ll concede that there are a few points of merit towards what your saying, but I agree with Google in their approach.

    2. “Every time an issue of people behaving badly on the internet comes up
      everyone nods their heads sagely and acknowledges that such things are a
      natural result of human nature+anonymity.”

      Some of us leave off the “anonymity” portion of it.  There are plenty of examples of people acting badly without without anonymity.

      Our default state in real life is one of (partial) anonymity – you can pick out faces, but until you either ask a person their name or ask someone else you have no idea who they are.  Even then, unless you have a verified source you don’t really know for certain who a person is.  Why do you think it should be different online?  For that matter, why do you think it *can* be different online?

  5. My main objection to real-name policies has everything to do with maintaining privacy and nothing to do with wanting to be an anonymous d-bag. As this situation neatly exemplifies lots of innocent people can be put at risk by having their real name out there. These policies open people up to all sorts of nastiness; identity fraud, stalkers, abusive ex-es, bullies, hate-groups, and more. That is why I am against real name policies and I am willing to endure a little bit of annoyance from trolls, d-bags and asshats in order to maintain my freedom and security on the net. And of course, as I’ve said before, it should be a personal choice. If you want to put your name out there (and many people do) then fine, but if you don’t want to you shouldn’t be forced to. And excluding people from services, based on this preference, is pretty backwards even if there is no obligation to use the service.

  6. I hate to state the obvious, but in a country with an overwhelming number of people with three surnames (Kim, Lee, and Park are the surnames of roughly half of ethnic Koreans) it might make sense to let people “personalize” their own names.

    P.S. Facebook doesn’t have a real name policy. At least not an enforceable one.

Comments are closed.