By Kim Jae-won
Local porn websites are using U.S.-based search engine Google as a vehicle to avoid crackdown on obscene content at local portals, government and industry sources said Thursday.
Google enjoys relatively greater freedom than local portals because its servers are based in the U.S., where local officials have no authority.
For instance, when "sex" was searched for, Naver, the nation's biggest portal site, showed six news articles related to the word, and blocked other sources. Adult-only information is provided when an Internet user proves that he or she is 19 years old or older.
It was similar at Daum, Korea's No. 2 portal. When the same word was typed, news articles, websites, books and music related to the word were shown, but it asked to identify with social security number for adults-only information.
However, when "sex" was searched at Google's trademark bar, plenty of porn clips were displayed immediately without any trouble.
Illegal sex trade websites are also listed by the American search engine, seeking to avoid regulations from the local authorities, according to industry sources.
The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) said that it is hard to regulate foreign players because their servers are based in foreign countries where the nation's authorities cannot impose Korean laws and regulations.
"We have difficulties in controlling porn websites listed by foreign portals because their servers are based offshore where local authorities have no power. It is technically impossible to block them," said Jeong Hee-young, a director at the KCSC.
Jeong said the agency blocks clearly harmful porn websites on foreign portals from local Internet users' access, but it is impossible to ban them all.
The KCSC director said that the most effective way would be for the U.S.-based search engine itself to block porn websites and asked it to cooperate in the matter.
"All we can do is to examine the content of websites and limit access to them. The best way is for Google to control them with its own system," said Jeong.
Representatives of Google Korea were not available for comment.