Scholars oppose the regulations on using SNS for electioneering

Another post on twitter and the election.

Scholars oppose the government regulations on using Social Network Service (SNS) and other internet technologies including twitter for election campaign, a research revealed.

According to a survey and interviews conducted of 17 scholars in internet law and political science/election by the Electronic Times in Korea, the experts think the 1st clause of Article 93 of the Election Law should be abolished for freedom of speech.

For your reference, the 1st clause of Article 93 prohibits ‘the distribution, showing or post of the advertisements, greetings, pictures, documents, audio/video tapes and anything similar containing the support, recommendation or opposition on parties or candidates’ from 180 days before the election day to election day.

This clause aims to prevent the major candidates with great resources from dominating the election by prohibiting all the electioneering before the official campaign period. The National Election Committee judged twitter is also included in ‘anything similar’ and should be regulated in terms of the expression of opinion on the elections. NEC’s guideline for using twitter and other SNSs for election campaigns provoked severe controversies on freedom of speech and conflict between internet technologies and out-of-date regulations.

11 scholars responded that the 1st clause of Article 93 should be revised or abolished, while only 4 answered the regulation should be maintained. For the reason of revising/abolishing the 1st clause of Articla 93, most of scholars (77%) answered that “because it restricts the freedom of speech, thus possibly violates the constitutionality.”

“You’d better not consider internet community board, blog or social media as space of illegality or deviation. Rather, it needs to be considered as a space where novel phenomena occur. Socio-cultural approach and legislation are needed to control the illegal behaviors and populism while guarantee the freedom of speech,” said Professor Ryu, Seok-jin of Sogang University.

Scholars also pointed out that spread of false information, false propaganda or vicious replies are punishable under criminal law, so you don’t need to restrict electioneering in internet through the Election Law.

“It is ironic you live surrounded by cutting-edge technologies and can’t use them,” said Congressman Chung, Dong-young (Democratic Party), who was a candidate of then ruling party in 2007 presidential election and leading the campaign to abolish the 1st clause of Article 93. He proposed to revise the Article 93 with 32 other congressmen. He aims to position the internet and social media as permanent tool for expressing one’s own views. “Presidential Election in 2007 was the 1st election ever that User Created Contents (UCC) was anticipated to play a important role. But that didn’t happen due to the 1st clause of Article 93 of the Election Law. 1600 netizens were called by policy because of the law, and same thing is about to happen with twitter now,” he also said.

The research was conducted by the Emerging Technology Research Center, the Electronic Times in Korea. They surveyed and interviewed 17 experts on internet law and political science to grab the in-depth opinion on the conflict between the election law and the use of SNS.

You can find the related articles here and the full report here. Sorry, the English versions are not available, so you need to understand Korean or have friends who understand Korean… :b


As a presidential candidate in 2007 election, Chung, Dong-young focused on campaign using internet, following the way the Late President Roh  took the presidency in 2002. He expected the sensational popularity in internet which made the Late President Roh elected happen again for him. His camp was told to expect that the UCC video clips that reveals then candidate Mr. Lee, Myung-bak was involved in financial scandals spread on the internet and have influences on the result of the election.

The clips did spread, but it could not reverse the tides. I cannot help adding comment that you can’t say Article 93 was the only reason for his defeat. Mr. Chung might want to think so. The point here is that  some may be opposing the regulation on campaign through internet media because they think they are prominent in internet, and some may want regulation because they are minor in internet. Just possibility.


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