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|Youth Protection Revision Act|
The emblem of the National Assembly of Korea.
|National Assembly of South Korea|
|Date passed||19 May 2011|
|Date commenced||20 November 2011|
|Status: Current legislation|
The Youth Protection Revision Act, commonly known as the Shutdown Law or Cinderella Law, is an act of the South Korean National Assembly which forbids children under the age of sixteen to play online video games between the hours of 00:00 and 06:00. The legislature passed the law on 19 May 2011 and it went into effect on 20 November 2011.
Between the hours of 00:00 and 06:00, access to online games is blocked for all gamers under the age of sixteen. The law has led those under sixteen to commit identity theft—underage gamers stole resident registration numbers in an effort to elude the law. The shutdown law targets online games, but does not affect console games and mobile games. Legal challenges against the law were filed by a group of Korean game manufacturers and a cultural organization. Since 2 September 2014, parents can request that their children be exempted from the law.
Internet game service providers filed a constitutional complaint about the shutdown law. They claimed that parts of the law infringed on the freedom of young people, the freedom of the game provider's occupation, the general freedom of action possessed by youths, and the rights of parents. The Constitutional Court of Korea rejected the complaint.
The court agreed that young people have the right to play video games but that the shutdown law did not infringe on their rights or liberty because video game addiction is detrimental to health. The court stated the rights of parents are not absolute and that the government can exercise control on families in dangerous situations. The court did not agree that the shutdown law unfairly targeted online game providers because online games are more addictive than other types of games.
In October 2004, some civic groups called for the government to pass a shutdown law because teenagers needed their sleep. The advocacy groups organized a forum. Kim Jae Gyeong of the Grand National Party (Hannara) proposed the Juvenile Protection Act amendment in 2005. This amendment was an early version of the shutdown law. Game industry lobbyists and actions by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism killed the legislation. The next year, Kim Hi Jeong, of the Grand National Party (Hannara) proposed an "act on preventing and solving internet addiction, including online games". This bill would require games to warn players that the games are addictive and penalize players, especially teens, who play too long. This bill also failed for reasons similar to the 2005 defeat.
On 10 July 2008, Kim Jae Gyeong proposed the Juvenile Protection Act amendment which required online game providers to prohibit teens from playing their games between the hours of 00:00 and 06:00. The amendment set out penalties for game companies who did not comply—up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. One year later, Cho Yeong Hi, of the United Democratic Party proposed a similar amendment on 22 April 2009. It included the prohibition of online game service to young people from 00:00 to 06:00, required that parents approve the play of online games for teenagers, and required game providers to warn players about internet gaming addiction. The possible punishment for a violation was the same as in the previous proposed amendment.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family were to introduce separate shutdown law amendments but decided to work together to develop one amendment that would be accepted by the legislature. They completed their version of the shutdown law bill on 3 June 2010. The shutdown law bill, which was included in the Juvenile Protection Act amendment, was introduced at the South Korea National Assembly plenary session and the bill was passed on 29 April 2011.
The shutdown law went into effect on 20 November 2011. It was applied to every online game in service in South Korea. Teenagers under seventeen years of age were not allowed to play online video games between the hours of 00:00 and 06:00. The law affected some online social games and every online game service that required a resident registration number.
On 24 April 2014, the constitutional court ruled that the shutdown law was constitutional.
Similar laws in other countries
In 2007, China introduced an Online Game Addiction Prevention System (Fatigue System). The fatigue system outlined a method to reduce the rewards in games (experience value and item drop rate) after a certain amount of time passed. This method was different than others that proposed forced termination after playing a game for a certain period of time. Once a player reached cumulative three to five hours of play, the game would reduce rewards by 50%. Once a player reached cumulative over five hours of play, the game would not give out any rewards. The fatigue system did no work well and was discarded.
According to the China Internet Network Information Center, the age of first-time Internet access for minors is steadily declining and Internet usage rate for minors is consistently increasing. Additionally, most minors are using Internet and 70% of offenses committed by minors are caused by Internet. In 2016, China took steps to reduce the negative impact of the Internet on minors and passed the Minors Internet Protection Ordinance.
The ordinance includes restrictions on nighttime gaming and length of gaming sessions for minors, required online gaming service providers to change rules to reduce addiction, provided for education and guidance of minors, and required manufacturers to install software for the protection of minors.
Thailand was the first country to implement a shutdown law beginning in 2003. It banned young people from playing online games between 22:00 and 06:00. However, online game services found it difficult to confirm users—they were unable to connect online game user accounts with real people. Thailand repealed its shutdown law within two years.
Since 2011, Vietnam blocks access to online game between the hours of 22:00 and 8:00 and closed Internet cafes.[clarification needed]
- Jiyeon Lee, "South Korea pulls plug on late-night adolescent online gamers", Digital Biz, CNN, November 22, 2011.
- Heather McClellan, "South Korea's 'Shutdown Law' Takes Effect" News, The Escapist, November 24, 2011.
- Chris Marlowe, "Korea Slaps Curfew on Gamers", Digital Media Wire, November 28, 2011.
- "Korea's Silly 'Shutdown Law' Might Be Unconstitutional", Legal, Kotaku.com, 22 June 2012.
- Min-Jeong Lee, South Korea Eases Rules On Kids' Late Night Gaming, The Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2014.
- "청소년 보호법 제23조의3 등 위헌확인 - 2011헌마659" [Confirmation of unconstitutionality of Article 23-3 of the Juvenile Protection Act - 2011 Heon-ma 659] (in Korean). 2017-12-05.
- "중국-태국, 셧다운제 실효성 없어 폐기" [China, Thailand to shut down shutdown] (in Korean). 2017-12-05.
- "중국 미성년자 게임 셧다운제 도입 의미와 전망" [Significance and Prospects of China's Minor Game Shutdown] (in Korean). 2017-12-05.
- "Regulations on the Protection of Minors Online (Draft for Deliberation)". 2017-12-05.