With the National Assembly having passed the Anti-Terrorism Act on March 3, Korean Internet firms are increasingly worried about a possible reverse discrimination against themselves attributable to potential cyber monitoring by intelligence and investigative agencies. They are concerned over the possibility of Korean Internet and mobile users opting for foreign services one after another instead of themselves. Then, anti-terrorism investigations are likely to be increasingly hindered by the shortage of available data and information and the domestic Internet industry itself cannot but shrink.
According to the act, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) can collect arrival and departure records, financial transaction data, call records and the like with regard to potential terrorists. In addition, the NIS can tell business to hand over location information and both sensitive and non-sensitive personal information on such persons.
This means the NIS is allowed to monitor the Web. “Although Naver and Kakao are trying to win the trust of users by releasing transparency reports and opening to the public which information and data they provided for the investigating authorities, such efforts can trigger a conflict after the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” said an industry insider, continuing, “Then, a massive cyber asylum will ensue with the Anti-Terrorism Act applied only to Korean companies.”
In the meantime, the Telegram messenger is emerging as a popular cyber asylum again after the passage of the bill. A similar phenomenon occurred two years ago amid the rumors that the prosecution was censoring the Kakao Talk messenger in real time. At that time, many asylum seekers returned to the Kakao Talk messenger in the end due to their unfamiliarity with the interface of Telegram and so on. Immediately before the passage of the bill, opposition lawmaker Shin Kyung-min said that he uses Telegram when exchanging information and data with assistants although he uses Kakao Talk for personal chatting.