South Korea is a technology powerhouse with nationwide broadband and electronics companies pumping out tons of cool products, but some lawmakers are trying to change a 14-year-old law that has them hanging on to Internet Explorer as the web browser of choice, The Washington Post reported earlier this week.
In the name of security, a law was passed in 1999 requiring citizens to use IE exclusively for shopping and banking. The government created “digital certificates” for citizens with their personal information shared with stores using ActiveX — a plugin created by Microsoft.
If they can make the change in the law, users may finally be able to use Firefox or Chrome more frequently.
Few South Korean computer users are campaigning to keep the current system. The greater obstacle comes from the government, and from the major banks and credit card companies that have followed its path.
When Aladin, Korea’s fourth-largest online bookseller, tried this year to institute a system similar to PayPal’s, a slew of domestic credit card companies rejected the payments. Chung Tae-young, the chief executive of Hyundai Card, wrote on Twitter that Aladin’s system “wasn’t safe.”
Koreans can use other browsers for general surfing, but when they go to an eCommerce website, they’ll get a message telling them they need to use IE. That poses even more problems for Apple users, for which IE isn’t available.
“We are behind the times, clinging to the old method,” said Rep. Lee Jong-gul of the main opposition Democratic Party, according to Business Korea.
IE, which still holds nearly 60% market share, has been known in the past for its many bugs and crashes. However, Microsoft claims their latest version 11 is a big improvement and runs 30% faster than other browsers.
Ironically, ActiveX controls can still allow hackers to damage computers if a user visits a malicious website and allows the software to be installed.