We, Korean Progressive Network ‘Jinbonet’, restart to
publish monthly newsletter for ICT movement in South Korea
from Feb. 2004. Sorry for long time no newsletter.
In this time, we wrote three issues.
Below is the list.
1. U.S. government should stop the US-VISIT Immediately.
2. U.S. Influence on Korean Intellectual Property Rights Laws Furthers U.S. Imperialism
3. Workers Rights Asserted – Guideline against Workplace surveillance
You can also read the materials with pictures at BASE21 website (www.base21.org)
We will do our best to meet you regularly.
Thanks and Solidarity,
* U.S. government should stop the US-VISIT Immediately
The U.S. government began to collect digital photograph and fingerprint of foreign visitors who need visa for the entry into the nation under a new government program, ‘United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology program’ (US-VISIT) on Jan. 5th, 2004. By October, all visitors who don?ft need US visa will also be required to have a biometric passport with fingerprints for entering the U.S.
On Feb. 5th, nineteen civic, social and human rights organizations in South Korea hold a press conference in front of the U.S. embassy protesting against the US-VISIT and criticized that it was an apparent violation of human right.
After the press conference, Choi Byong-mo (Chairman of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society), Kang Nae-hee (Chairman of Korean Progressive Network ‘Jinbonet’), and Oh Chang-ik, (Director general for Citizens’ Solidarity for Human Rights) handed over a protesting letter to the embassy.
U.S. government should stop the US-VISIT Immediately.
United States Visitor and Immigration Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) has been implemented at 115 airports and 14 seaports in the US. on Jan. 5. This is an identification database system with biometric information including fingerprint and digital photograph of all foreign visitors to the U.S.
All visitors who need US visa should be photographed and take prints of right and left index fingers when they are entering the US and be investigated whether they are on the list of suspected terrorists and criminals.
In addition, South Koreans will have to take their fingers from August when applying for a visa. The U.S. embassy in South Korea said, “the fingerprints collected here is to be identified when the Korean visitors enter the U.S.”
We, South Korea human rights organizations express anger over the US-VISIT system and demand the U.S. stop collecting of the biometric information such as fingerprint and digital photograph immediately.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says the goal of this program is to track the millions of people who come to the U.S. and to use the information as a tool to against terrorists’ activities. However many experts even in the US questioned the practical application to prevent terrorists’ activities with this system. For example, for those whose fingers and photos have not been collected in the US-VISIT database, the screening process in the U.S. ports of entry will be useless. The measures are only expected to backfire, aggravating the anti-U.S. sentiment around the world.
What is worse is that Washington has gone as far as to pressure other nations to issue machine-readable biometric passports. They demand even other visa waiver nations make the biometric passports by October.
U.S. Consul-General Bernard Alter recently reportedly said that if the South Korean government does not start issuing passports containing biometric information from August this year, then it would influence whether South Korea becomes a visa waiver nation in the future. We regard his words as an insolent intervention of the other state’s internal affairs of issuing its own passports.
Biometric information like fingerprints is one of the most sensitive ones, the surest tool of identification. Leakage of such information could be detrimental to the very holders. Most of all, once a person’s biometric information is collected, it can be easily recaptured in his or her scope of activities without even consent. Thus it should never be easily available for collection and identification and there should be very strict standard and legislation when the personal information is collected and used.
To collect biometric information as a national policy is a clear violation of the basic human rights such as liberty of body and private life, broadly ruled in the Universal Declaration of Human Right and other international standards on human rights. It also violates the basic principle of presumption of innocence by treating an individual as a potential criminal.
Many countries all over the world have put a strict restriction on collection of the personal information and ban such activities with a long-term and abstract purposes.
The U.S. move to collect biometric information mirrors Washington’s wayward attitude to trample on human rights of other nationals with a cause of its own security. It is an imperialistic approach to twist others’ arms and antagonize any dissenters.
We also express concerns over propagation of the practice of collecting biometric information. We deem that the discussion on the introduction of the biometric passports will be put on the fast track once the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) publicizes the criteria of the documents.
The introduction of the biometric passports can lead to a global-level surveillance over privacy, an expanded version of the state’s watchtower, which the human being have endeavored to minimize in its efforts to enhance human rights and democracy.
Now, we witness the state surveillance unprecedently begin to cover not only the nationals but all the human beings. Against this backdrop, people who are concerned over the human rights and oppose any national-level or global-level intervention of privacy have no choice but to stand against the US-VISIT.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, each countries’s government have granted greater authorities to their intelligence agencies and strengthened surveillance system over their nationals. A lot of human rights groups criticized it very strongly. The U.S. introduction of the security system has now touched off another round of protests in this regards. In whatever condition, we can never give in during this campaign, as we are no longer human being when we give up our due right as humankind.
Last but not least, we feel startled over the fact that the South Korean government has no position to this US policy. While other governments of Brazil and Poland are expressing concerns to this US policy, it does not seem to have lifted a finger on the issue. It worries us whether the South Korean government agrees with the Washington’s move or it will go as far as to adopt biometric passports, degrading itself to an accomplice to the international surveillance system over privacy.
We, human rights organizations, can not repress the anger over the U.S. decision and now delivers the written protest.
We once again demand the U.S. stop this measure immediately. If the U.S. government goes on with the collection of biometric information, we will fight against it hand in hand with other human right groups all over the world.
Feb. 5, 2002
Ansan Labor and Human Rights Center
Citizens’ Solidarity for Human Rights
Catholic Human Rights Committee
Catholic Priests’ Association For Justice
Citizens’ Action Network
Dasan Human Rights Center
Democratic Labor Party, Committee of Human Rights
Justice and Peace Committee of Cheongju Diocese
Korean House for International Solidarity
Korean Progressive Network ‘Jinbonet’
Korean Sexual-Minority Culture and Rights Center
Minbyun-Lawyers for a Democratic Society
People’s Solidarity for Social Progress
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
SARANGBANG Group for Human Rihgts
Solidarity against Fingerprinting
Solidarity for Peace and Human Right
Wonbuddhism Committee of Human Rights
Total nineteen organizations
Translator: Kim Ki-Tae(Volunteer)
* U.S. Influence on Korean Intellectual Property Rights Laws Furthers U.S. Imperialism
By Joo Chul-min / IPLeft
The U.S. government has been requesting amendments to the Intellectual Property rights law and Computer Program Protection law of the Republic of Korea consistent with its own policy. This has created a situation where the Republic of Korea’s Intellectual Property law has increasingly become more restricted over the last several years. In January 2001, the exclusive right of copying and transmission of digital products was granted to the copyright holder. In 2003, numerous amendments were made to Korea’s legislation including protection of databases without creativity, punishment regulation against reproduction of technical protection measures as well as granting the judicial police enforcement regarding the control of illegal software. Further amendments of copyright law grant the right to transmission solely to the neighboring rights holder. These cases clearly reflect the interest of the U.S. and its influence on our Intellectual Property laws as unilateral amendments.
Following its review of the intellectual property right protection level, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced September 1, 2003 the Republic of Korea would be placed on their priority Watch List, downgraded from their previous Watch List of recent years. Previously in 1989, 1992-1996 and 2000-2001, it was also on the priority watch list.
This decision to place Korea on the priority watch list is based on Special Section 301 of U.S. Trade Policy. Section 301 is divided into Normal, Super and Special Sections. While Normal and Super Sections are not restricted to a certain subject or area, Special Section 301 is only applied to the intellectual property rights area. In other words, even though the U.S. government can still exercise a sufficient trade pressure power with Normal Section 301 and Super Section 301, the sole intent of Special Section 301 is to strengthen this already biased trade pressure. Essentially, the U.S. is trying to maximize its own benefits through unlimited trade pressure wherever intellectual property is concerned.
Of further concern is how the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) reflects the specific view of the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA). The IIPA is comprised of industry heads in music production, movie making, software programming and publishing companies. Each February the IIPA releases its own report which usually coincides directly with the opinion of the USTR, which is not released until April.
Worse yet is how the Korean government not only yielded to trade pressure from the U.S. but also allowed for provisions which would provide for police enforcement for the control of illegal software. Such legislation is internationally unprecedented. Furthermore, as such unilateral trade pressure is biased to reflect only the interest of the U.S. corporations and is even considered an opportunity to unfairly strengthen its competitive advantage, some copyright organisations are trying to gain vested rights through intensification of the domestic Intellectual Property Right.
The purpose of the Intellectual Property Right regime should be equally reflected on the interests of the creators and users, as it is currently it is only respecting the interest of the copyright and neighboring right holders. It is the goal of the U.S. corporations to make this view reflected on legislation of every country all over the world.
The Intellectual Property Right is not merely a possession of copyright holders. Intellectual products would be meaningless if there were no users to enjoy them. It must be recognized that the fundamental aim of the Intellectual Property Right regime is to strengthen the consensus and exchange between the authors and users.
* Workers Rights Asserted
Guidelines against Workplace Surveillance by the Alliance to Abolish Workplace Surveillance has asserted workers rights to reject employers total impunity in using surveillance of employees at their workplace. The Guide, Workers Have the Right to Reject to be Under Surveillance, summarizes the activities of the Alliance to Abolish Workplace Surveillance (AAWS) in the last 2 years.
The development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has led to a rapid growth of workplace surveillance systems. Because of reported human rights abuses where these surveillance systems are in use, the Guide has been designed as a resource to assist employees who may have to work under such surveillance systems.
The Guide introduces the concept of workplace surveillance and practical approaches to deal with surveillance in the workplace. These include defining what workplace surveillance and personal information of workers are, as well as detailed recommendations regarding how workers should confront recent surveillance technologies such as CCTV, monitoring systems of email and messenger services, Smart Card, ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) and similar technologies. Furthermore, it contains relevant government regulations and refers to actual cases to assist workers in determining their own particular workplace situation. The guide also provides information as how to assess whether or not violations have occurred and the necessary steps workers should take to document and resolve disputes regarding workplace surveillance systems.
According to basic rights stated in the Constitution, employees have the right to secure their own dignity and privacy in the workplace. The right to equipment and labor management is used as the primary supporting argument by companies using workplace surveillance systems. However, this argument cannot justify overriding basic human rights protected by the Constitution. Therefore, companies should not put employees under surveillance without justification for doing so.
Nevertheless, companies are saying it is necessary to establish workplace surveillance systems for security management, prevention of burglary and information leakage. In fact, such systems are often improperly used to observe employees routine behaviours, to pose unfair restrictions on employees time and to collect, record and store employees personal information.
In fact, demands by society for increased safety and security, as well as the development of ICTs, makes the expansion of workplace surveillance an inevitable fact. However, in the absence of relevant regulation, it is illegal to secretly install and manage workplace surveillance systems without any agreement among employees and their employers. Moreover, employees should not be forced to forego personal privacy due to such surveillance systems.
AAWS announced plans to visit workplaces and educate employees regarding problems of workplace surveillance as well as to discuss strategies in dealing with the presence of such systems based on their Guide. While continuing to provide alliance support, AAWS will also provide counselling in the event of an actual abuse.
* Alliance to Abolish Workplace Surveillance
– Worker’s Institute for Management Analysis
– Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Minbyun
– Democratic Labor Party
– Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, KCTU
– No Finger-print solidarity
– Korean Progressive Network, Jinbonet
– Korean LaborNet, NodongNet
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