[ISN] Ministry to get police power to combat cyber crime

InfoSec News 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," 
he said. 

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. 

"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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