p2pnet news view | P2P:- Virtually every North American with a Net account will have heard of the tragedy of Megan Meier, the 13-year-old girl who hanged herself after being bullied online by a fake MySpace user.
However, her death was far from being singular.
In Britain, seven teenagers died, committing what appeared to be copycat suicides and, “Rising numbers of Japanese are dying each year in group suicides after meeting online via suicide web sites, posing a new problem for officials trying to tackle the nation`s alarmingly high suicide rate,” said the Kyodo news agency.
Recently, “I’m so scared,” famous South Korean actress Choi Jin-sil is reported by the Korea Times as saying before she killed herself.
“I feel like dying if the situation continues. Will people trust me if I die? My name is ‘Choi Jin-sil’ (Jin-sil means truth) but people call me ‘Choi Hypocrisy.’ Isn’t it sad? I’m sorry for my children, but it may be better to become a mom whose truth is revealed after death than a mom at whom people point fingers.”
She was embroiled in the death of actor Ahn Jae-hwan, “who killed himself in September allegedly after failing to pay back debts to loan sharks,” says the story. “It was rumored that Choi lent him billions of won.”
Her death has, “fueled a debate over how to tackle what are considered the two biggest social problems in South Korea: suicide and so-called cyber-terrorism,” says the Los Angeles Times.
“Choi’s suicide came at a time when government officials are pushing to introduce new clauses in communication laws to enforce harsher punishment for cyber-insults,”it says, continuing, “The country is also preparing to extend an existing law that requires Web service providers to confirm social security numbers and the real names of users.”
In South Korean society, nine out of 10 households have access to cheap broadband and, “On every corner, stores are equipped with pay-per-hour computers, usually in use by young gamers,” says the story. “The nation’s computer usage is among the highest in the world, with each user online an average of 34 hours a month, according to a 2007 survey,” it says, and now, “The idea of introducing a cyber-insult law is finding traction in the wake of Choi’s death, especially among the ruling party legislators.”
However, others say new laws could have a chilling effect on free speech, says the Los Angeles Times, adding:
“During the candlelight rallies, when the Web users derided President Lee Myung-bak, calling him ‘Gee-bak’ [gee means 'rat' in Korean], the Korea Communications Commission advised those posters to refine their language,” said Chang Yeo-kyung, an activist from Jinbo Network, a center that works to promote online privacy and freedom of speech. “The cyber-insult law may restrain people from criticizing the president or the government.”
“Some also question whether cyber-defamation and rumors are the real cause of the country’s high suicide rate.
” ‘Insults and complaints reflect the society, and South Korea is reported to have the lowest happiness rate’ among leading industrialized countries, Park said.
hanged herself – Amicus brief in Megan Meier suicide case, August 5, 2008
seven teenagers died – Surge of UK `online` teen suicides, January 23, 2008
Korea Times – Actress Choi’s Last Conversation Disclosed, October 23, 2008
Los Angeles Times – Suicide of South Korean actress fuels Internet debate, October 26, 2008
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