Real Name Verification Law on the Internet: A Poison or Cure for Privacy?

  • Daegon ChoEmail author
Conference paper


As the internet media has become more widely used over time, public opinions formed by internet discussions affect political and social issues more critically. While the internet space guarantees equal status for every participant and equal opportunity in terms of freedom of speech based on anonymity, baseless rumors, personal defamation, and privacy invasion against particular individuals and groups are more likely to happen rather than in the face-to-face offline communications. In order to prevent this undesirable effect, the South Korean government implemented Real Name Verification Law in July 2007 by which discussion participants should pass verification process in order to express their opinions in most websites. This study examines the effects of Real Name Verification Law in several aspects. By applying content analysis to abundant data of postings in a leading discussion forum that is subject to the law, the results suggest that Real Name Verification Law has a dampening effect on overall participation in the short-term, but the law did not affect the participation in the long term. Also, identification of postings had significant effects on reducing uninhibited behaviors, suggesting that Real Name Verification Law encouraged users’ behavioral changes in the positive direction to some extent. The impact is greater for Heavy User group than for Light and Middle User groups. Also, discussion participants with their real names showed more discreet behaviors regardless of the enforcement of the law. By analyzing the effect of this policy at the forefront of internet trends of South Korea, this paper can shed light on some useful implications and information to policy makers of other countries that may consider certain type of internet regulations in terms of privacy and anonymity.

Anonymity Pseudonymity Deindividuation Computer-mediated communication Real name verification law Freedom of speech Content analysis 


  1. 1.
    Acquisti A, Dingledine R, Syverson R (2003) On the economics of anonymity. In: Camp J Wright R (eds) Financial cryptography (FC’03). Springer-Verlag, LNCSGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cohen JE (1996) The right to read anonymously: a closer look at “copyright management” in cyberspace. Conn L Rev 28:981Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cohen JE (2000) Examined lives: information privacy and the subject as object Stan L Rev 52:1373–1398Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Danielson P (1996) Pseudonyms, Mailbots, and virtual letterheads: the evolution of computer-mediated ethics In: Ess C (ed) Philosophical perspectives on computer-mediated communication. State University of New York Press, AlbanyGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Diakopoulos N, Naaman M (2011) Towards quality discourse in online news comments. In: Proceedings of the ACM 2011 conference on computer supported cooperative workGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Froomkin MA (1995) Anonymity and its enemies. J Online L Art 4Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Froomkin MA (1996) Flood control on the information ocean: living with anonymity, digital cash, and distributed database. J Law Commerce 15(2):395–507Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Goldberg I (2000) A pseudonymous communications infrastructure for the internet. PhD thesisGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jessup LM, Connolly T, Galegher J (1990) The effects of anonymity on GDSS group process with an idea-generating task. MIS Quarterly 14:3: 313–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hwang Y (2007) Critical approach to the implementation of real-name system on bulletin board of the internet: exploring right of anonymous communication, (in Korean). Media Soc 15(2):97–130Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kahai SS, Sosik JJ, Avolio BJ (2003) Effects of leadership style, anonymity, and rewards on creativity relevant processes and outcomes in an electronic meeting system context. Leader Q 14:499–524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Karyda M, Kokolakis S (2008) Privacy perceptions among members of online communities. In: Acquisti A, Gritzalis S, Lambrinoudakis C and De Capitani di Vimercati, S (eds) Digital Privacy: theory, technologies and practices. Auerbach Publications, Boca Raton pp 253–266Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kim K (2009) The technical, legal and business issues of the real-name-verification requirement (in Korean). Hum Right Justice 7:78–97Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Marx G (1999) What’s in a name? some reflections on the sociology of anonymity. Inform Soc 15(2)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    McLeod PL, Baron RS, Marti MW, Yoon K (1997) The eyes have it: Minority influence in face-to-face and computer-mediated groups. J Appl Psychol 82:706–718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Morio H, Buchholz C (2009) How anonymous are you online? examining online social behaviors from a cross-cultural perspective. AI Soc 23:297–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Myers DG, Lamm H (1976) The group polarization phenomenon. Psychol Bulletin 83: 602–627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Myung J (2003) Trace of the implementation of real-name system on the internet bulletin board in a public institution (in Korean). Center Law Inform Soc 5:2–13Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Park CS, Go MK, Ki S (2008) The impact of anonymity on behavior of comments in online discussion board, manuscriptGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Pfitzmann A, Koehntopp M (2001) Anonymity, unobservability, and pseudonymity—a proposal for terminology. In: Hannes Federrath (ed) Designing privacy enhancing technologies - Proceedings of the International Workshop on Design Issues in Anonymity and Unobservability vol 2009 of LNCS Springer, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pinsonneault A, Barki H, Gallupe RB, Hoppen N (1999) Electronic brainstorming: the illusion of productivity. Inform Syst Res 10(2):110–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Postmes T, Spears R, Lea M (1998) Breaching or building social boundaries: side-effects of computer- mediated communication. Comm Res 25(6):689–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Postmes T, Spears R (1998) Deindividuation and antinormative behavior: a meta-analysis. Psychol Bulletin 123:238–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Reicher SD, Spears R, Postmes T (1995) A social identity model of deindividuation phenomena. European Rev Soc Psychol 6:161–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Reidenbach RE, Robin DP, Dawson L (1991) An Application and extension of a multidimensional ethics scale to selected marketing practices and marketing groups. J Acad Market Sci 19(2):83–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Siegel J, Dubrovsky V, Kiesler S, McGuire TW (1986) Group processes in computer-mediated communication. Organ Behav Hum Decis Process 37:157–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Spears R, Lea M, Lee S (1990) De-individuation and group polarisation in computer-mediated communication. British J Soc Psychol 29:121–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Sproull L, Kiesler S (1986) Reducing social context cues: electronic mail in organizational communication. Manag Sci 32(11):1492–1512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Solove DJ (2004) The digital person: technology and privacy in the information age. New York University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Solove DJ (2006) A taxonomy of privacy Univ Penn Law Rev 154(3):477–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Solove DJ (2007) The future of reputation: gossip, rumor, and privacy on the internet Yale University Press New Haven, CTGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Woo JW, Nah HS, Choi JM. (2010) An empirical analysis of the effect of real name system on internet bulletin boards South Korea J Pub Admin 48(1):78–96Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Walther JB (1992) Interpersonal effects in computer-mediated communication. Comm Res 19(1):52–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wood A, Smith M (2001) Online communication: linking technology, identity, and culture. Mahwah NJ, ErlbaumGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Zarsky TZ (2004) Thinking outside the box: considering transparency, anonymity, and pseudonymity as overall solutions to the problems of information privacy in the internet society, 58. Univ Miami Law Rev 991:1028–1032Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Information Systems and Management, The H. John Heinz III CollegeCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations