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New digital sex crime raises questions over 'Anti-Nth Room law'

(123rf)
(123rf)
The ‘Anti-Nth room’ legislation is again facing criticism as the police steps up its investigation into another digital sexual exploitation crime similar to the "Nth Room" and "Baksa Room" cases that shocked Korean society two years ago.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's cybercrime unit said on Wednesday that it has enhanced its investigation team, assigned more personnel to the case and launched a task force on Thursday.

As with the "Nth Room" and "Baksa Room" cases, the perpetrator of the current case blackmailed several victims to film sexually explicit videos and earned profits by distributing and selling the content through the messenger application Telegram. Telegram is not subject to the so-called ‘Anti-Nth room’ legislation, which was introduced to prevent similar crimes after previous events.

The “Anti-Nth room” legislation is an umbrella term referring to a number of bills passed by the National Assembly on April 29, 2020 and May 20, 2021, imposed from Dec. 10, 2021. It includes provisions to strengthen the punishment for various sex crimes, as well as a provision to oblige Internet service providers to prevent their systems from being used as a channel to distribute illegal content.

Since this law only targets open online spaces, private Telegram chat rooms cannot be censored. The only way to detect illegal content shared through private chat rooms are other users' reports and the resulting investigation. But Telegram, which has its servers overseas, has not cooperated with any criminal investigation so far.

The National Police Agency has been studying countermeasures to respond to continuous digital sex crimes since May, such as reviewing the legality of new investigation techniques, such as hacking into a suspect's electronic device and securing criminal traces.

Moreover, traces of similar crimes have been spotted again. According to a report on Friday by Seoul Economic Daily, a local newspaper, similar chat rooms sharing illegal content are active in the application named Discord. The report speculated that there are not only teenagers, but also younger victims.



By Lee Jung-Youn (jy@heraldcorp.com)
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