The South Korean Ministry of Public Administration and Security reiterated support this week for its plans to abolish legislation that requires Internet users on social networks and other websites to use their real names. Currently, the law requires websites with more than 100,000 visitors per day to require users to register with their real names. In the past, this rule has brought opprobrium from civil rights groups, who have argued that the requirement limits South Korean Internet freedoms and privacy rights by removing the possibility of anonymity from the bigger Internet services.
The move to reform the law comes soon after a massive data breach last month, in which hackers allegedly stole the personal details of a reported 35 million South Koreans from the company SK Communications. Websites operated by Cyworld and Nate were particularly hard hit — and the “real name” law only made the breach worse when it happened. As well as real names, the compromised data is said to include email addresses, phone numbers, passwords, and even resident registration numbers, although some of the more sensitive information was allegedly encrypted.