- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
- Detroit porch shooting trial: Suspect says he didn’t know gun was loaded
- U.S. Navy admiral ‘receptive’ to giving Chinese counterpart a tour of carrier
- Islamic State orders female genital mutilation for Mosul girls, U.N. says
- U.N. school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed
- Obama encourages ICE to stand down, say former border agents
- Pro-Palestinian protesters attack Israeli soccer team in Austria match
SKorean presidential hopeful vows freer Internet
Question of the Day
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) - A South Korean presidential candidate has promised to get rid of encryption technology that has tied South Korean Internet users to a single web browser _ Microsoft's Internet Explorer _for online financial transactions.
Ahn Cheol-soo, a popular independent presidential candidate, said companies will be free to choose what online security technology they use if he wins the December election.
Since South Korea established an Internet security system for online commerce and banking in the late 1990s, Internet Explorer has been the sole gateway for financial transactions and for accessing most government websites.
The digital certificate that identifies the user during online banking and other transactions has to be downloaded, installed and operated through the Active X framework, an addition to Internet Explorer that is not available for Safari, Chrome, Opera or other web browsers. Users of such browsers were forced to switch to Internet Explorer to trade stocks, to do online banking or shop online.
"South Korea's unique certificate system, driven by the government, has led to the isolation of South Korea's IT," Ahn wrote in his policy pledge book released earlier this week. "Excessive use of Active X is making web browsing less convenient."
Ahn, a founder of South Korea's largest anti-virus software company, said his government will not obligate companies to use the established online security system. It will also encourage the development of alternatives to the current system.
Critics say the dominance of Internet Explorer in South Korea is attributable to the government's web policy.
StatCounter says Microsoft's web browser has an 83 percent market share in South Korea as of February, down from 93 percent a year earlier but still far ahead of runner up Google's Chrome browser with 10.3 percent. Internet Explorer's global market share is 36 percent.
While South Korea's broadband Internet is cheap, universal and fast, its web browsing environment has been criticized for limiting choices and being incompatible with the rest of the world.
Experts said the excessive use of Active X also made South Korean computer users more vulnerable to malware and viruses as it facilitated downloading and installing programs on the Internet without caution.
The state-run Korea Internet Security Agency said among 200 major South Korean websites, 74 percent used Active X as of July and its use was especially high among financial companies and online book sellers.
Some voters welcomed Ahn's pledge to end the mandatory, government-designated online certificate system, as many believed it had limited their choice of web browsers and computer operating system, as well as slowing down their computers.
"I think it is a well-made pledge," said Yu Kyu-yeol, a 30-year-old web developer. "I use Mac computer and every time to make payments online I had to turn on my Windows computer."
A former medical doctor and entrepreneur, Ahn is one of the three leading candidates for Dec. 19 presidential election.
Youkyung Lee can be reached via Twitter: www.twitter.com/YKLeeAP
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Whistleblowers flood VA with lawsuits despite apology
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama says public not familiar enough with issues
- Conservative groups decry Democrats' 'war on women' tactic
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Astronaut shares 'saddest photo' from space: Bombs bursting over Israel, Gaza
- EDITORIAL: Obamacare enrollees faking for freebies
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq