South Korea is the most Internet connected country in the world. As of 2005 more than 89 percent of South Korean households had Internet access, with 75 percent of these households using broadband. South Koreans are connected to the most advanced national network infrastructure in the world.
In 2001, the South Korea''s Ministry of Information and Communication promulgated the controversial Internet Content Filtering Ordinance. In addition, new rules are expected, which will set down relatively rigid provisions requiring news Websites to comply with the same restrictions as newspapers, TV, and radio. These rules require forum and chatroom users to make verifiable real-name registrations. In addition, internet companies would have to make their search algorithms public to improve transparency. The new rules are also expected to grant the Commission wide powers to suspend the publication of an article deemed fraudulent or slanderous, for a minimum of 30 days. During this period, the Korean Communications Standards Commission may decide either to reinstate or to permanently remove the article.
The Korean Internet Safety Commission (KISCOM), formerly the ICEC, is responsible for overseeing the Internet Content Rating Service. This service allows Websites to evaluate themselves on the danger they present to minors. The Ministry of Information and Communications formally enacted an Internet content rating system implementing the ICEC''s rating criteria. The ICEC released its Criteria for Indecent Internet Sites on April 24, 2001, which classified information concerning homosexuality in the category of obscenity and perversion. Its filtering system reportedly blocked access to a number of gay and lesbian Websites. This position has since been reversed. KISCOM is also responsible for a compulsory filtering system to determine which sites will be blocked.
The Korean Internet Safety Commission (KISCOM), formerly the Information and Communications Ethics Committee (ICEC), is an independent body established in 1995 under the Telecommunications Business Act to formulate a code of communications ethics and to inform state policy aimed at eradicating subversive communications and promoting active and healthy information. Although nominally an independent body, commentators argue that it appears to reflect government policy.
The 2001 Ordinance classified homosexual Internet content as harmful and obscene. The Ministry of Information and Communications ordered a large South Korean Website devoted to issues of homosexuality to classify itself as harmful and to block minors from accessing the site; failure to comply ran the risk of fine and imprisonment. Homosexual rights advocates challenged the order in court as an illegal restriction on free speech. Although the court ultimately ruled in favor of the ICEC, it questioned the constitutionality of classifying homosexual content as harmful to minors.
According to reports, in 2001 the South Korean government reportedly required its ISPs to block as many as 120,000 sites on an official list. While the precise number of sites that were in fact blocked is not clear testing conducted at the end of 2006 by the OpenNet Initiative indicated that Internet filtering in South Korea is not as extensive as reports have suggested.
South Korea''s controversial Internet Content Filtering Ordinance regulates the country''s Internet content. It mandates the blocking of access to Web sites on a government-compiled list and requires that Internet access facilities accessible to youth install filtering software. New rules introducing further restrictions are also expected.