Wednesday 19 October 2022 – The Monocle Minute

For nearly 10 hours final weekend, a lot of South Korea was in the dead of night – digitally talking. The nation’s essential messaging app, Kakao, went down on Saturday after a fireplace at an information centre. More than 53 million folks all of a sudden skilled what life was like within the previous offline days; again once we used to talk to folks in individual, hail taxis on the road and withdraw money from banks.

While hyperconnected South Koreans may arguably do with rather less display screen time, the novel expertise has spooked many into recognising the close to-monopoly that Kakao enjoys on communication in South Korea. More than 90 per cent of the inhabitants makes use of the messaging app. The shock led to requires lawmakers to safeguard each competitors and innovation, and to think about safety in a nation that’s always threatened with assault and destabilisation from its neighbour to the north.

The South Korean navy can – and usually does – put together for hypothetical tactical missile strikes however didn’t appear to have a prepared response for when its go-to messaging app went down. President Yoon Suk-yeol noticed the panic that the Kakao outage prompted and has vowed to take decisive motion. What this may seem like is much less clear.

More broadly, the position of personal, unaccountable and sometimes opaquely run expertise corporations wants additional dialogue – and quick. You solely want to take a look at the benefit that Elon Musk’s satellite tv for pc expertise Starlink has given Ukraine’s battle efforts to see how civilian providers will be co-opted for good or in poor health. For now, we must be working to use strict antitrust legal guidelines to on-line providers and stress check them in case of emergencies. What would occur if an enormous e-mail server went down or a social media agency fumbled elsewhere? Most nations would nonetheless be in the dead of night about how greatest to answer.

(*19*)James Chambers is Monocle’s Hong Kong bureau chief.

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