Controversy in communication inquiry spreads… “Justice Investigation” vs “Media Inspection”


When it was revealed that the high-ranking public officials’ crime investigation department had inquired reporters’ communication data, that is, subscriber information, a controversy arose over whether the investigation was a legitimate investigation or a media inspection.

Reporter Kim Kwan-jin looked into the controversy.

The number of reporters who have been inquired about subscriber information by the Air Traffic Control Agency is about 40 from 10 media outlets.

The Ministry of Public Security explains that it is the process of finding out who was talking to based on the call records of the person involved in the case obtained by obtaining a court warrant.

In fact, it seems that the targets of the investigation by the Ministry of Public Security include prosecutors and lawmakers who have a lot of contact with reporters, so reporters who spoke to them seem to be the target of inquiry.

However, as it was confirmed that the information of a video reporter who said that he had never spoken to a prosecutor or a member of the National Assembly was passed at a media company, suspicions were raised that extensive call tracing was made targeting media reporters.

In order to determine whether or not to inspect the press, even the parties involved must know which event or who the request for communication data is related to, but there is no such provision in the current law.

Article 83 (3) of the Telecommunications Business Act only stipulates that telecommunication companies can provide subscriber information upon request by an investigative agency, but the provision of notification to parties is omitted.

In 2014, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea recommended improvement, saying that there is a possibility of human rights violations, but the government did not accept it.

The Solidarity for Participation and Minbyun also filed a constitutional complaint stating that collecting personal information without restrictions under the pretext of investigation is an abuse of public power, and the Constitutional Court is currently hearing it.

[서채완/변호사 : 국제 인권 기준에서는 영장주의나 혹은 적법 절차의 원리에 따라 제공이나 이런 것들이 될 수 있다는 입장인데 우리나라는 임의로 계속 제공이 자의적으로 되고 있기 때문에 (개선이 필요합니다.)]

For the convenience of investigative agencies, there are growing calls for control devices such as subscriber information collection and court warrants, which are done indiscriminately.

(Video editing: Jo Moo-hwan, CG: Kim Jong-un)

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