Freedom and regulation on the information superhighway : a study of the Internet content rating system in South Korea
This PhD thesis aims to explore issues relating to Internet content regulation and the methods of dealing with illegal and harmful content on the Internet. Firstly, the thesis begins with a discussion of the theoretical issues relating to freedom and regulation on the Internet. Debates over freedom of expression and governmental regulation on the Internet are critically appraised through case studies in the US, Australia, China, the UK and the EU. Furthermore, the notion of Internet self/co-regulation and its advantages and drawbacks are considered. Issues relating to the implementation of co-regulation regarding Internet content are also explored. Secondly, detailed technical reviews and critiques of the Internet content filtering and rating systems are conducted. Two US legal cases that deal with filtering software issues are discussed. Ten stand-alone filtering software products are reviewed in order to examine how the filtering technologies are applied to commercial products in practice. Three leading Internet content rating systems are also examined. Thirdly, close attention is paid to Internet content regulation in South Korea. Its significant Internet usage and infrastructure are explored. A mandatory Internet content rating system in use in South Korea is analysed and situated within a broader context. Its impacts on actual Internet contents are researched through case studies and a survey. The thesis concludes by examining the theoretical potential for better solutions to the controversial issues of freedom of expression and regulation on the Internet. Finally, a number of policy proposals concerning Internet content regulation are critically discussed and a number of recommendations are made.