YouTube skirts Korean user ID law

Maybe anonymity isn't all it's made out to be online, but YouTube Korea is actively supporting its users' aura of anonymity nonetheless. Rather than support a new law that requires users contributing to YouTube first provide their real name and national ID card number, YouTube Korea has instead disabled uploads and comments to the site--and provided a workaround.

PC World reports that starting April 1, a new law in Korea, called the Cyber Defamation Law, requires that any users in Korea looking to contribute to a large Web site (like YouTube) need to first provide their real name and and national ID card number. In response, YouTube Korea disabled uploads and comments to its site. YouTube spokeswoman Lucinda Barlow offers this explanation:

"We have a bias in favor of freedom of expression and are committed to openness. It's very important that if users want to be anonymous that they have that chance."

But what about all those Korean users who want to upload videos to YouTube and comment on them, while remaining anonymous? Simple, says YouTube. Just change your preferences to list a different country of origin. Once users switch to say, Japan, they can upload videos and post comments on YouTube without fear of being unmasked. Of course, that means that Korean users intent on cyber bullying--the reason the law came into effect in the first place--can also skirt the law.

But that's probably OK. Google/YouTube's been through the foreign country cyber-bullying wringer already, with its much-publicized problems in Italy. Perhaps its newly experienced legal team is looking for fresh challenges.

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