Google Goes the Privacy Route for YouTube in South Korea

    April 13, 2009
    Chris Crum

Last month, reports came out indicating that Google might have to make YouTube users in South Korea confirm their real identities if they wanted to upload or comment on content. There is a law in that country that went into effect on April 1st, that requires users to provide their ID numbers and would require Google to turn over information to the South Korean government when asked.
YouTube South Korea
It was looking like Google was going to comply. A Google spokesperson was quoted as saying, "Google Korea has … always (taken) the stance that Google respects local law/regulation but at the same time we continue trying to promote freedom of speech on the Internet."

Ultimately, Google has decided to block uploads and comments to Korean YouTube users. As a workaround, they are suggesting users change their preferences to a different country’s version of YouTube if they want to participate in the community.

"We concluded in the end that it is impossible to provide benefits to internet users while observing this country’s law because the law does not fall in line with Google’s principles," Rachel Whetstone, Google’s vice president of Global Communications & Public Affairs is quoted as saying.

Many would’ve considered Google’s requiring of users to submit their IDs evil had they gone through with it. Some seem to think they would’ve gone through with it anyway had YouTube been a more dominant force in the country.

"That’s because in Korea, Google has a much smaller presence than its domestic counterparts like and," says Read Write Web’s Sarah Perez. "Let’s see how the company behaves in countries where they have a much larger market share."

Either way, Google is sure to get a lot less flack for this than if they had gone the other way. Privacy advocates are often focused on Google, and they would’ve had a field day with this one.