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South Korea's Shutdown Law Goes Into Effect

South Korea's Shutdown Law Goes Into Effect

November 23, 2011 | By Eric Caoili

South Korea's recently passed Shutdown Law went into effect on November 20, and now requires online games to block children aged under 16 from playing during a late-night six-hour block.

The so-called Cinderella Law was passed earlier this year, advocated by the government's Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (MCST) and Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MGEF) as a way to prevent online gaming addiction.

Console services like Sony's PlayStation Network and Microsoft's Xbox Live are affected, with the former no longer allowing 15-year-olds and younger to register for PSN accounts or to log in between midnight and 6AM.

Xbox Live has been given a two-month grace period to create a system for tracking users' age and blocking children from logging in during the late-night hours. It's possible the service could block all users no matter their age during that period.

Critics of the Shutdown Law argue that the law violates children's civil rights, and that the government hasn't proven that playing games is more harmful than watching TV or movies, listening to music, or engaging in other indoor activities.

The Korea Association of Game Industry (KAOGI), which is made up of 14 game publishers like Nexon and NCsoft, claimed the law enforces "excessive prohibition" on a small number of players, and has been preparing a lawsuit regarding the curfew.

Cultural solidarity organization MoonHwaYunDae (MHYD) also filed an appeal to the Korea's Constitutional Court against the law last month. Despite the opposition, the new policy went into effect this week without any significant issues.

Some people are working around the Law, though, by using their parents' accounts created with their social security numbers, or by logging into Western servers for games like League of Legends instead of local servers, according to This Is Game.

The Korean news site also reports that MCST and MGEF are seeking to have local online game companies create account certification systems that collect personal data such as social security numbers and credit card info to prevent workarounds.

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