Date
27 July 2017
Lee Seok-woo helped create KakaoTalk, South Korea's most popular chat app. He is stepping down to take responsibility for failing to prevent child abuse imagery being spread via the service. Photo: BBC News
Lee Seok-woo helped create KakaoTalk, South Korea's most popular chat app. He is stepping down to take responsibility for failing to prevent child abuse imagery being spread via the service. Photo: BBC News

KakaoTalk chat app boss quits after child porn row

South Korea’s most popular chat app says its co-founder has resigned after being accused of failing to prevent child abuse imagery being spread via the service.

Kakao Corp. said Lee Seok-woo was charged but not detained by prosecutors, according to BBC News.

Lee had been in charge of the KakaoTalk app until August when he moved to an advisory role.

The company said its chat app has more than 100 million users.

“Lee said he would like to take on new challenges,” Kakao Corp. said in a statement provided to the Korea Herald newspaper.

Lee is scheduled to formally step down on Saturday.

Last week’s indictment was the first time the South Korean authorities had charged an internet industry insider with violating the country’s Protection of Children and Juveniles from Sexual Abuse Act.

Lee helped create KakaoTalk, South Korea’s most popular chat app.

He ran afoul of a law that mandates mobile service operators to take adequate steps to stop child abuse photos and videos circulating on their platforms without setting out specific measures they must take.

KakaoTalk allows users to hold one-to-one and group conversations and to send multimedia content to each other and thus hosts a huge amount of data.

The company had indicated it had taken steps to tackle illegal material.

“We are making a genuine effort, by scanning for keywords, looking for malicious links, and allowing users to report objectionable material,” the company told the Hankyoreh news site last week.

“But requiring us to filter out even more obscene material on a private service necessarily implies a degree of censorship that would infringe on the privacy of users.”

The indictment is likely to raise concerns at other chat apps, which have also had problems tackling youngsters swapping sexually explicit images of themselves and others.

KakaoTalk has previously been criticised for not doing enough to protect its members’ information.

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