South Korea censored over 200,000 pieces of online data in 2019, a report showed Friday, marking a slight decline from the previous year.
The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), the country's censorship body, took action against 206,759 pieces of online data last year, such as blocking public access or deleting them, down from 238,246 in 2018, according to an annual report from the Clinical Legal Education Center under the Korea University's School of Law.
The Korea Internet Transparency Report, funded by Google and the country's top portal operator Naver Corp., is released annually by Open Net Korea, a local internet privacy advocacy group.
The report showed that 160,803 pieces of online information, or 78 percent of the total, were blocked from public access last year, while 34,995 were deleted.
It said pornographic or prostitution information consisted of 25.4 percent of the censored data, while gambling information took up 24.2 percent, followed by illegal food and drug data with 20.8 percent.
The report expressed concerns over the extent of censorship in the country.
"It is difficult for the KCSC to escape criticism, considering the vast amount of data blocked or deleted," Oh Kyoung-mi, a researcher at Open Net, said in a briefing.
The report also showed that the country's top two portal operators -- Naver and Kakao Corp., allowed state authorities to look into 3.1 million online accounts last year.
While the number marks a drop from 8.3 million in the previous year, the report noted that last year's figure is still high compared with 722,876 accounts probed in 2016.
"The data shows that searches and seizures are used as the main tool for internet monitoring," the report read. "Such a vast number of searches and seizures presents the most significant issue in communications monitoring." (Yonhap)