[ISN] Ministry to get police power to combat cyber crime
isn at c4i.org
Mon May 10 02:46:15 EDT 2004
By Kim Tong-hyung
(thkim at heraldm.com)
Law enforcement agencies plan to grant the Ministry of Information and
Communication police power to combat computer crimes such as network
hacking, a move that is expected to generate controversy over
individual rights and the limits of the state's authority.
"Basic agreements were reached with the Ministry of Justice and the
Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs in March in
extending juridical authority," said a ministry official on Friday.
"We think our trained personnel and technical infrastructure at the
Korea Information Security Agency to cover the areas in computer
crimes the National Police Agency lacks in efficiency in controlling,"
More than 600 cases of unsolicited e-mail distribution and personal
information infringements were reported to the police last year,
compared with none in 2002.
If the plan is approved, the ministry officials will have the
authority to investigate such cases without a police warrant. Ministry
officials hope related regulations will be revised by the National
Assembly by the end of the year.
Legal experts criticized the plan as an unreasonable expansion of
"Government authority to control over individual freedom should be
accessed by authorized and limited personnel only, since it harbors
the possibility of violating civic rights," said lawyer Lee Eun-woo, a
member of Lawyers for a Democratic Society.
"If police needed help with computer crimes, they could always request
technical assistance from the ministry or other telecom companies.
There is no reason to expand the jurisdiction itself."
Under the tentative plan, the ministry will have a 24-person
inspection team with two agents from the Korea Information Security
Agency sent to each of the eight provincial police agencies across the
The ministry official said talks were currently under way between the
Justice Ministry and National Police Agency on jurisdiction matters.
The National Police Agency has balked at the plan since it was
broached in March by justice officials. It says that it would be more
reasonable to increase personnel and budgets of the police computer
crime investigation units.
"The crimes in the information technology sector aren't disconnected
with other types of crimes happening in other areas. It's not like
technology experts could handle them alone," said a police agency
Currently, the Information and Communication Ministry has jurisdiction
over limited cases, including the violation of software copyrights and
destruction or illegal use of electronic and radio communication
The ministry also runs branch organizations of Korea Information
Security Agency and the Information and Communication Ethics Committee
to oversee information security and inspection of Internet content.
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