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Online real name system should be respencted during election period

Online real name system should be respencted during election period

Posted August. 01, 2015 07:21,   


The Legislative Subcommittee under the National Assembly Special Committee on Political Reform has decided to abolish the related provisions in the Political Official Election Act. It happened on Tuesday, just two days before the Constitutional Court rules that the so-called "online real name system during an election period" is constitutional. After the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the law, Subcommittee Chairman Chung Moon-hun (Saenuri) said the committee will continue to pursue abolishment of the law even though the Saenuri spokesperson said that the party respects the ruling on Friday. It is a short-sighted view and an arbitrary decision to ignore the court’s intention behind the ruling. Not to mention the general public, most of Saenuri lawmakers did not know such discussion has been in progress and they have never gathered opinions over the election law.

“If false information is shared during an election campaign period, the information can be distorted in a wide and swift manner,” the Constitutional Court said. "The online real name system to guarantee fair elections does not infringe freedom of anonymous expression on political matters." On the same issue, the court had ruled the law obliging real names during election periods is constitutional in 2010. At that time, seven judges voted in favor of the law while two viewed it as unconditional. But in 2012, composition of judges was changed and five voted in favor with four voting against, narrowing the gap compared to the 2012 ruling. Still, the majority of judges deemed that the provision in the Political Official Election Act needs to be maintained considering the special characteristics of election periods.

However, some including the opposition party criticize the ruling, citing that the Constitutional Court ruled a provision of the Information Communications Network Act, which obliges real name system on the internet at all times, is unconstitutional in 2012. The opponents claim that political participation through the internet and expression of political opinions must not limited. Also, they cite that there are other measures of punishment such as defamation or offense of slander in cases of election crime using the Internet.

However, groundless slanders or false propaganda can make a critical impact to results of elections, such as the presidential election for 23 days and the general election and local election for 14 days respectively. Even though it is punished after the election, election results cannot be reversed. In the election, it is important to prevent illegal election fraud to guarantee freedom of expression.

Spreading false information and malicious rumors under the mask of anonymity corrupts the election culture and hampers political development. As the ruling and opposition both can become a victim, the opposition must not view it from a partisan perspective. The Saenuri Party and the New Politics Alliance for Democracy must not push ahead to abolish the provision in the Political Official Election Act, which requires to use real names on the web during election periods, considering the Constitutional Court`s intention to rule it as constitutional.