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Police question Daum Kakao CEO in child porn investigation

The CEO of one of Korea's largest internet companies, Sirgoo Lee, has been questioned on allegations against Daum Kakao for failing to report and stop the distribution of child pornography on its messaging service.

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Sirgoo Lee, CEO of Korean Internet giant Daum Kakao, was summoned by the Daejeon Provincial Police Agency on Wednesday for allegedly failing to block and report child pornography spreading through the company's popular instant messaging app, KakaoTalk.

According to South Korean law, online service providers are obliged to take appropriate measures to identify, block and report distribution of illicit content.

This marks the first time the head of an online service company was brought in for questioning for violating child protection laws in Korea. The company's purported negligence can be punishable by up to 3 years in prison for the company's representatives or 20 million won in fines (approximately $18,000).

Daum Kakao was formed in March 2014, following a merger between Kakao, maker of the popular messaging app KakaoTalk, and Daum, an Internet portal.

A spokesperson for the police agency has explained that Lee and Kakao Group have been neglectful of their duty to monitor and block child pornography since before merging with Daum, citing that back in June, a 20-year old man was arrested and charged for spreading tens of thousands of pictures and videos through KakaoTalk.

Some have speculated that the interrogation is a public act of retaliation. Lee had previously refused to honor government warrants from prosecutors wanting to access private user data after outrage from KakaoTalk users who discovered their messages were being monitored.