The government wants to scrap the peculiar Korean requirement for online customers to install Microsoft's ActiveX software on their computers. The buggy and invasive interactive protocol has largely been abandoned everywhere else in the world.
The baffling practice was highlighted in a meeting on deregulation chaired by President Park Geun-hye last week. Park noted that Chinese fans of the Korean hit soap "My Love from the Star" wanted to buy products they saw on the show from Korean websites but were unable to do so due to the need to install ActiveX.
Korea is the only country in the world that requires online users by law to install ActiveX. No such requirement exists for Amazon or eBay, but most Korean shopping sites force customers to download not only ActiveX but several other security-related programs to authenticate themselves. This is pure chicanery.
When Korea first adopted online personal certification in 1999, it was ahead of other countries. But now much more advanced verification software is available and in use around the world. The only thing this requirement to download a host of software programs has done is make Korean online shoppers vulnerable to computer viruses.
Experts have been recommending scrapping this outdated requirement for five or six years, but the government has done nothing. Now that the president has complained about the system, bureaucrats are scrambling to come up with changes so that foreigners can shop more easily on Korean websites.That is not enough. Koreans too should be able to shop as conveniently online as everyone else in the world. It should be job of businesses to invest in more secure online transaction systems, not the job of customers to download programs that are essentially malware.