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Blocking SNSs Cannot Win Back Public Sentiment
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Can you blocking SNS communication?

The constitution of the Republic of Korea clearly talks of discharging the people's "duties and responsibilities concomitant to freedoms and rights," "based on autonomy and harmony."

Ensuring that an appropriate balance of responsibilities and duties is achieved in society, based on the constitution, is the job of the government.

Consequently, if the balance between responsibilities and duties is upset, it is right that intervention and regulation on the part of the government become necessary, despite the principles of autonomy and harmony.

This, however, applies only when regulations are rational and appropriate. If it does nothing where regulation is required, and pokes its nose into places where the principles of autonomy and harmony should be operating, the government is failing to fulfill the role assigned it by the constitution.

This is exactly the description that applies to a government that merely stares blankly in the face of ongoing corruption in financial, private educational and legal circles, while enthusiastically announcing plans to constrain social network services that have proliferated along with increased smartphone use.

The Korea Communications Standards Commission yesterday held a plenary session and confirmed its decision to expand deliberation over SNSs.

The commission will create a new "new media" deliberation team and filter out harmful or illegal information circulating on SNSs such as Twitter and Facebook, and smartphone applications.

SNS users and civic groups, however, are opposing the move on grounds that it will only nominally involve "deliberation" and in fact amounts to suffocating SNSs and media censorship in the smartphone era.

The government's permitting of arbitrary judgment and even blocking of SNS content, in other words, is a serious violation of freedom of expression.

The enforcement of SNS regulation guidelines issued during the October 26 by-elections barely one month later, as if part of a speed campaign, ahead of next year's general and presidential elections, without any public discussion, has laid entirely bare the government's political intentions.

The government's regulation of SNSs is clumsy and reckless. It is, of course, true that SNSs are breaking down the barrier between public and private space. But burning down the whole house to kill the fleas is unjustifiable.

The obsessive attempts by the National Election Commission and prosecutors to block SNSs at the last election, and the Supreme Court's rash announcement of plans to hurriedly convoke an ethics committee and create SNS user guidelines for legal officials because judge Choe Eun-bae posted a message on his page criticizing the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, reveal the same impatience to regulate SNS as that of KCSC.

What these organizations intend to do by thinking only of the Lee Myung-bak administration and ignoring the constitution is a mystery.

Regulations that are not based on consensus regarding their social appropriateness are not only ineffective but also damage the constitutional principles of autonomy and harmony regarding wise use.

If the government has calculated that it can win elections by blocking SNSs, it really has no clue about public sentiment. (Editorial, The Kyunghyang Daily News. December 2, 2011)

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