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Google Korea Asks For ID

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In America, Google’s SafeSearch can be disabled with two simple clicks of the mouse.  Not so in Korea – the search engine giant will, starting in August, require that users enter their name and a national resident registration number in order to conduct “searches of an adult nature.”

This information “will be checked against a database to verify the user – or at least the person whose data has been entered – is old enough,” reports Martyn Williams of the IDG News Service.

This concept may not be quite as Big Brother-ish as it sounds; those resident registration numbers are just the Korean version of American social security numbers, and the age limit will only restrict the searches of users who are 18 and under.  Google is also going to make an effort to differentiate between “innocent” searches and, well, less-than-innocent ones (searches for “breast cancer” compared to searches for “breasts,” for example).

Still, it seems that Google didn’t want to enact these restrictions, and is doing so just to appease the Korean government and get a PR boost in that country.  Kim Kyung-mo, an analyst with Mirae Asset, told the Korea Times that the move “may be a harbinger to indicate that Google is ready to fully compete here after years of struggles.”

The article, written by Kim Tae-gyu, then notes, “Google debuted Korean-language services in 2001 but failed to be a contender . . . .  Experts raised many reasons for the setbacks and one of the most frequently cited ones is that it failed to become part of the cultural fabric of Korean society as demonstrated by the adult authentication that many Koreans deem very important.”

Google Korea Asks For ID
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