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[Editorial] Special Act on “Disclosure of Illegally Wiretapped Recordings” is Doubly Unconstitutional

[Editorial] Special Act on “Disclosure of Illegally Wiretapped Recordings” is Doubly Unconstitutional

Posted August. 04, 2005 03:13,   


The Uri Party is pursuing a special legislation that would allow it to entrust a private organization known as the “Truth Committee” with the disclosure and handling of the illegally wiretapped audiotapes, and the Democratic Labor Party and the Millennium Democratic Party have expressed their support for the move. If a law authorizing the disclosure of these tapes is passed with the consensus of the three majority parties, the people’s basic right of “telecommunications security” may be put at risk. The question of whether or not to publish the tapes’ contents must be debated not in light of the interests of a particular party or power group but upon the principle of protecting our basic rights, won at a high cost in the course of Korea’s democratization.

At a press briefing on July 29, President Roh Moo-hyun said, “Exposing the ‘X-File’ cannot pose any threat to me, nor can covering it up benefit me in any way. I will go the way of the truth.” Could he mean that we should disclose the contents of all the tapes, since they were recorded prior to the 1997 presidential election and can have no effect on himself, who came to office in 2002? Whatever the case may be, the Uri Party came out with the idea for the special act as soon as President Roh made the above comment, as if they were waiting for a cue.

Encouraging the disclosure of the wiretapped materials just because the party and administration’s short history exempts it from the repercussions of their contents smacks of political strategizing. What is more, it shakes national discipline at its foundations.

The Constitution specifies the protection of telecommunications security by declaring, “No citizen will have the privacy of his or her telecommunications violated.” The Telecommunications Security Protection Act, which upholds this article of the Constitution, sanctions monitoring only as an exceptional and supplementary means in criminal investigations or the preservation of national security. Eavesdropping is not authorized under any circumstances. Even in cases of legitimate monitoring, the investigators require a warrant from a judicial officer, and any violation of telecommunications privacy must be kept to a minimum. The inclusion of a provision in the Telecommunications Security Protection Act that specifies the same heavy penalties for those who disclose or leak the contents of illegally bugged conversations as for those who perpetrate such illegal wiretapping bespeaks the seriousness of the violation of basic rights that such a disclosure would entail.

The X-File is the result not of a government agency’s criminal investigation or its effort to protect national security, but of its attempt to listen in on private conversations in order to find “handles” for blackmail and illicit deal-making, acquired without an authorizing warrant from a court official. The government party seems to think that it is preempting the potential violation of the Telecommunications Security Protection Act by creating a special act endorsing the exposure of the tapes’ contents, but such recourse is still in violation of the Constitution, which is the highest law in existence.

Endowing a private organization such as the Truth Committee with the judicial power to infringe on the rights of others is also a violation of the Constitution. Therefore, the special act allowing the disclosure of the illegally wiretapped recordings is doubly unconstitutional. If the government reverses the history of our democratization through the “X-File Special Act,” it could become a catastrophe for the people of this country.