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Korea Fights Porn Spammers

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Sep 30, 2003 12:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
KOREA -- It seems that U.S.-based Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not the only ones these days having difficulty protecting children from obscene pornographic content sent by spammers.

According to reports, Korean ISPs have been inundated with pornographic spam and customer complaints in recent months. So far, attempts to block the onslaught of unwanted emails have been futile and emails containing porn content appear to be much more resilient to spam blocking software than other forms of spam, Korean authorities reported today.

Boston technology research firm Yankee Group recently reported that more than 57 percent of South Korean households have high-speed Internet access, compared with 49.9 percent in Canada, and 25.6 percent in Japan. The United States ranks fourth with 22.8 percent.

And while the spam issue in parts of Korea is not as severe as in other countries since its government enacted laws against companies that send unsolicited email, there is a widespread effort to reduce the amount of pornographic emails that children are exposed to.

Some of Korea's leading email providers Naver and Yahoo! Korea recently launched services like Junior Naver and Juiver intended to provide more broad protection for children online. But according to reports, those filters are not as effective as previously thought and children are able to bypass protective functions with little difficulty.

In a likeminded move, Yahoo! Korea recently launched "Safety Belt," a spam blocking filtering service that can be enabled and disabled by a pop-down menu, similar to another spam blocking service marketed by Dreamwiz.

But in many instances these new blocking services have proven futile in the war against protecting children from pornographic spam.

In the case of Naver's porn blocking software, it was found that children could access their accounts through the adult portal site by entering their ID and password on the website where links to adult content are not filtered out.

In Yahoo!'s case, children could easily cancel the service by clicking the service cancellation button on the web page, which does not require permission from parents.

A spokesperson for Naver was quoted as saying: "It is practically impossible to compel children to use only the Juniver portal service. All we can do is recommend that children use the children-exclusive Internet portal services."

"To promote safer email environment, we are reviewing ways to add a procedure requiring a parents' consent when children want to remove the Safety Belt function from their email accounts,'' said a Yahoo! Korea spokesperson.

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