KTH Opens Door to Facebook, Twitter Logins on Paran, I’m In

KTH is prodding Korea further along the path to global internet standards by allowing users to login to the Paran portal and the I’m In location-based service, among other things, using their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

However, Korea’s netizens aren’t quite free of “the man’s” watchful glare just yet.

Via KTH’s new OAuth authorisation system, users can ignore the requests for a Paran ID and instead login by clicking on the Twitter or Facebook icons. After providing an email address from any account and making up a new password, visitors will then be (mostly) free to use the portal, I’m In and the Pudding photo service.

KTH apparently has global aspirations for Pudding (which includes face-recognition technology), and the adoption of more international standards for its internet services is clearly an essential step in achieving this. KTH has been something of an early adopter in the past and is — with Paran occupying a far smaller chunk of Korea’s portal market than Naver or Daum — perhaps more open to innovation with its portal and other services.

As the need for another email address suggests, though, OAuth still has to cater to the demands of the Korean market — and the government.

As discussed elsewhere, Korea’s regulators have acknowledged the special circumstances of social media sites. In order to grant them a level playing field with foreign competitors, the government has exempted domestic social media from the country’s “real name system,” which requires any site with more than 100,000 visitors per day to have commenters register using their real names and national ID numbers. For KTH, this means users can have ready access to I’m In via their Twitter or FB accounts, without having to verify their identity.

However, this freedom still doesn’t extend to leaving posts on Paran’s noticeboards or news sites, for which users will still need to verify their identities.

I sent an email to Chun Sunghoon (@dminer), the head of KTH’s social media team, and like the gent he is, he sent me the following replies:

Re the requirement for an email address:

(We) originally thought about allowing logins via Facebook and Twitter alone. But as the recent Facebook and Twitter API white lists remain a little unclear, and as as websites in Korea are required to hang on to users’ data for a fixed period, we decided to install the email requirement in case people end up closing their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

And regarding the real name requirements on notice boards and news sites:

Under the current law, news is subject to the identity verification system, so we had to arrange the service in that way. We can’t flout the law, and it’s also difficult (under the current regulations) to add a service such as “social postings.”

Despite their restrictions, KTH’s new policies are a welcome move toward bringing Korean sites more in line with prevailing standards elsewhere. And while the government has recently shown it’s lost none of its taste for heavy-handed regulation, we can only hope that developments like this are building a momentum of their own.

Sources of info and pics: Bloter and ZDNet Korea.

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