Go to contents

Portals Responsible for Illegal Posting: Experts

Posted July. 04, 2008 07:09,   


Legal experts say that Web portals cannot be free from paying damages in case companies or newspapers file a lawsuit against them for leaving postings urging Internet users to press companies running ads on particular newspapers, including the Dong-A Ilbo and the Chosun Ilbo, to withdraw the ads.

A prosecutor-turned lawyer said yesterday, “It is okay to post writings on personal blogs urging to press companies to stop running ads on particular newspapers or face boycott. However, if such postings are put on online communities visited by hundreds or thousands of users on a daily basis, this constitutes ‘exercise of power.’ If Web portals turned a blind eye to such postings, they also share responsibility for the illegal behavior.”

The lawyer explained, “If a few users post such writings on various Web sites en mass, that means that they had an intention to cause disruption of particular companies by exercising power.”

Another lawyer said, “To demand withdrawing ads from a particular newspaper amounts to damaging the newspaper’s reputation. The newspaper in question can demand compensation for damage of reputation, apart from disruption of its business through the wielding of power.”

The Korean Bar Association also said Wednesday in its review of legal issues in regards to threatening postings against companies running ads on particular newspapers, “The Supreme Court says that companies can demand compensation for an excessive boycott, even if the boycott is intended for protecting public good. The current demand for stopping the ads might be intended for protecting public good, but if it steps out of legal limitation, those who make such demand cannot be free from punishment according to civil laws.”

Meanwhile, a judge-turned lawyer said, “Legal experts have mixed opinions on the illegality of Web postings urging Internet users to press particular companies to withdraw their ads by citing potential boycott movements. Considering this, it is highly likely that Web portals didn’t know that such postings were illegal, and therefore, it would be hard to hold them accountable.”

A team of prosecutors investigating the issue said that it has questioned officials from companies suffering from threats made by Internet users, and from the Dong-A Ilbo, the Chosun Ilbo and the JoongAng Daily.

The prosecutors asked the companies about the content of threatening phone calls and the extent of disruption in their business caused by such calls, while investigating the damage caused to the newspapers.

Also, the prosecution is tracking down on Internet users who posted such writings repeatedly and maliciously, while continuing investigation on operators of online communities established for the purpose of pressuring companies to withdraw ads from the three newspapers.