Taiwan hosts one of the freest online environments in the Asia region. The information landscape is characterized by affordable internet access, diverse content, and a lack of website blocks and internet shutdowns. An independent judiciary protects free expression. Civil society, the tech sector, and the government have taken innovative action to counteract the impact of disinformation campaigns originating from China. However, criminal prosecutions for online activities and concerns over disproportionate surveillance all threaten internet freedom.
Taiwan’s vibrant and competitive democratic system allows peaceful transfers of power between rival parties, and protections for civil liberties are generally robust. Ongoing concerns include foreign migrant workers’ vulnerability to exploitation, and the Chinese government’s efforts to influence policymaking, the media, and democratic infrastructure.
- The country boasts very high rates of internet access with no significant digital divides. Recent improvements in access are evident among previously less connected segments of the population, such as immigrants (see A1 and A2).
- The Telecommunication Management Act (TMA) came into effect in July 2020, replacing the Telecommunications Act. The TMA relaxes previous requirements for service providers to register and retain a specific amount of capital to operate in the country, although it does impose limits on direct foreign ownership of telecom services (see A4).
- Under a new rule issued in September 2020, Taiwanese companies could no longer provide Chinese over-the-top (OTT) services, particularly iQIYI or Tencent, via television or other broadcast, although the services remain unblocked by internet service providers. The rule updated the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (see B1 and B6).
- The government introduced the Internet Audiovisual Service Management Act (IASMA) in July 2020 to regulate OTT services. The draft law would mandate that they abide by certain transparency and registration requirements, and seeks to ensure that content on their platforms do not endanger national security, public order, or the moral good, or impair the emotional or physical well-being of youth (see B3 and B6).
- The draft Digital Communication and Broadcasting Act (DCBA) would impose varying degrees of obligations on content providers. For instance, the draft mandates that companies disclose certain practices in their terms of service, and requires intermediaries to implement a notice-and-takedown mechanism to remove illegal content immediately after being notified of its presence (see B3).
- At least four people were fined after being found guilty of violating the Social Order Maintenance Act for social media posts that included inaccurate information (see C3).
- The Technology Investigation Act, proposed in September 2020, would increase authorities’ ability to monitor private communications stored on a user’s electronic device (see C4 and C5).
- In May 2021, the government introduced the 1922 SMS contact-tracing system, which uses QR codes to track users’ locations (see C6).
|Do infrastructural limitations restrict access to the internet or the speed and quality of internet connections?||6.006 6.006|
In general, there are no infrastructural limitations to internet access in Taiwan and the country boasts high rates of internet access. In 2021, the social media management platform HootSuite placed Taiwan’s internet penetration rate at 90 percent, or approximately 21.45 million people.1 Other data sources placed the percentage slightly lower: the Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC) reported in 2020 that the penetration rate stood at 83 percent.2
Users can get online through a range of different connections, including fixed-line broadband networks like fiber, digital subscriber line (DSL), fourth- and fifth-generation (4G and 5G) technology for mobile networks, and free public Wi-Fi services.3 According to the National Communications Commission (NCC), 5.83 million people in 2019 subscribed to fixed-line broadband networks,4 while the penetration rate for mobile networks was 114 percent.5 There are nearly 10,000 hotspots across the country providing free Wi-Fi.6
The government is dedicated to upgrading mobile services to 4G networks and promoting 5G.7 2G was suspended in 2017,8 and telecommunications companies stopped offering 3G contracts the following year.9 Chunghwa, Taiwan’s largest telecommunications company, has announced that it will stop providing 3G technical assistance for calls by 2024.10 The major telecommunications companies, such as ChungHwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, and Far EasTone (FET) have begun providing 5G service in major cities and several other locations throughout the country.11
In July 2021, Taiwan was ranked 28 and 30 in Ookla’s SpeedTest global index for mobile and fixed-line broadband speeds, respectively. That month, Ookla reported Taiwan’s average mobile data download and upload speeds as 71.82 megabits per second (Mbps) and 15.09 Mbps, respectively, with fixed broadband download and upload speeds at 149.83 Mbps and 88.94 Mbps.12
Taiwan Academic Network (TANet), which is maintained by the Ministry of Education and several universities, provides the network infrastructure for educational institutions, including universities and libraries.13
- 1Simon Kemp, “Digital 2021: Taiwan,” DataReportal, February 11, 2021, https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2021-taiwan?rq=taiwan.
- 2Taiwan Network Information Center, “2020台灣網路報告 [2020 Taiwan Internet Report],” 2020, https://report.twnic.tw/2020/en/report_en.pdf. Chinese version available here: https://report.twnic.tw/2020/assets/download/TWNIC_TaiwanInternetReport….
- 3Taiwan Network Information Center, “2020台灣網路報告 [2020 Taiwan Internet Report],” 2020, https://report.twnic.tw/2020/en/report_en.pdf. Chinese version available here: https://report.twnic.tw/2020/assets/download/TWNIC_TaiwanInternetReport….
- 4National Communications Commission, “109年通訊傳播市場報告 [2020 Communications Market Survey in Taiwan,]” February 17, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/21021/5023_45725_210217_1.pdf.
- 5National Communications Commission, “109年通訊傳播市場報告 [2020 Communications Market Survey in Taiwan,]” February 17, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/21021/5023_45725_210217_1.pdf.
- 6iTaiwan Wifi, “iTaiwan無線上網服務簡介 [Introduction to iTaiwan Wireless Internet Service,]” Accessed June 08, 2021, https://itaiwan.gov.tw/faq_service.php.
- 7National Communications Commission, “即時新聞澄清 [Instant News Clarification,]” January 07, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=3562&ca….; Shelley Shan, “ Telecoms can drop 3G by 2024, must protect user rights,” Taipei Times, September 11, 2020, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2020/09/11/2003743213
- 8National Communications Commission, “新聞稿 [Press Release,]” June 28, 2017, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=8&cate=….
- 9National Communications Commission, “新聞稿 [Press Release,]” December 05, 2018, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=8&is_hi….
- 10Peng Huiming, “NCC: 中華電信3G網路 2024年關閉 [NCC: Chunghwa Telecom’s 3G Network will Close in 2024,]” September 12, 2020, https://udn.com/news/story/7240/4853868.
- 11Chunghwa Telecom, “5G,” Accessed June 24, 2021, https://www.cht.com.tw/home/campaign/5g/index.html, see QA Juan Pedro Tomás, “Taiwan Mobile’s 5G coverage reaches half of Taiwan’s population,” RCR Wireless News, April 29, 2021, https://www.rcrwireless.com/20210429/5g/taiwan-mobile-5g-coverage-reach…. Ericsson.com, “Far EasTone and Ericsson deliver the fastest 5G experience in Taiwan,” accessed June 24, 2021, https://www.ericsson.com/en/cases/2021/solid-partnership-far-eastone. Chunghwa Telecom, “舞動精采 共創未來,”Dancing Splendidly to create a better future, accessed July 20, 2021, https://www.cht.com.tw/home/campaign/5g/index.html
- 12Taiwan’s Mobile and Fixed Broadband Internet Speeds, Speedtest, accessed July 20, 2021, https://www.speedtest.net/global-index/taiwan#mobile
- 13The introduction of TANet, Ministry of Education, https://depart.moe.edu.tw/ed2700/News_Content.aspx?n=697CD84F427DE922&s…
|Is access to the internet prohibitively expensive or beyond the reach of certain segments of the population for geographical, social, or other reasons?||3.003 3.003|
There are no significant digital divides in Taiwan, although slight disparities remain based on geographical area and age. Internet access, especially mobile networks, is affordable. According to the report from the TWNIC, nearly 95 to 97 percent of users spend less than 1 percent of their monthly income for mobile networks.1 The Inclusive Internet Index 2021 report ranks Taiwan 47 out of 100 countries in terms of affordability, defined by cost of access relative to income and the level of competition in the internet marketplace.2
There is a slight digital divide with regards to geographic location, although it has been diminishing in recent years.3 A 2020 report from TWNIC stated that 84 percent of people above the age of 12 in nonrural areas had access to the internet, compared to only 70 percent in rural areas.4
There is also a slight disparity in access based on age. In 2019, the National Development Council (NDC) reported that 86.2 percent of people above the age of 12 accessed the internet, but only 75 percent of people between the age of 60 to 64. Only 44 percent of people over the age of 65 used the internet.5
There is not a significant gender divide to access. Some surveys report that men use the internet more than woman by a rate of about 2 to 5 percent.6
Other groups have experienced a boost in internet access in recent years. For example, as of 2020, 96 percent of immigrants used the internet, a sharp increase from 72 percent in 2014.7 The government has also set up the i-Tribe program to increase wireless broadband for Indigenous communities.8 The program has reportedly improved people’s ability to access digital health care services and other information.9
- 1Taiwan Network Information Center, “2020台灣網路報告 [2020 Taiwan Internet Report],” 2020, https://report.twnic.tw/2020/en/report_en.pdf. p. 38. Chinese version available here: https://report.twnic.tw/2020/assets/download/TWNIC_TaiwanInternetReport… 2020 台灣網路報告, page 38, https://report.twnic.tw/2020/en/report_en.pdf
- 2The Economist, “The Inclusive Internet Index 2021,” Accessed June 23, 2021, https://theinclusiveinternet.eiu.com/explore/countries/performance?cate….
- 3National Development Council (NDC), “歷年數位機會(落差)調查報告 [Survey Report on Digital Opportunities (Gap) Over the Years,]” Accessed June 08, 2021. https://www.ndc.gov.tw/cp.aspx?n=55c8164714dfd9e9.
- 4Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC), “2020 Taiwan Internet Report,” Accessed June 08, 2021, https://report.twnic.tw/2020/en/report_en.pdf. Chinese version available here: https://report.twnic.tw/2020/assets/download/TWNIC_TaiwanInternetReport…
- 5National Development Council (NDC), “108年個人家戶數位機會調查報告 [2019 Survey Report on Digital Opportunities of Individual Households],” September 2019, https://ws.ndc.gov.tw/Download.ashx?u=LzAwMS9hZG1pbmlzdHJhdG9yLzEwL2NrZ… 年個人家戶數位機會調查報告, page 544
- 6Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC), “2020 Taiwan Internet Report,” Accessed June 08, 2021, https://report.twnic.tw/2020/en/report_en.pdf. Chinese version available here: https://report.twnic.tw/2020/assets/download/TWNIC_TaiwanInternetReport…; R.O.C. National Statistics Bureau, “國情統計通報 (第 136 號) [State Statistics Bulletin (No. 136)],” July 21, 2020, https://www.stat.gov.tw/public/Data/0721165450VTN8S5UB.pdf. 2020 台灣網路報告, page 7,
- 7National Development Council (NDC), “109年新住民數位發展現況與需求 調查報告中文摘要 [2020 Investigative Report on the Status and Needs of New Residents’ Digital Development]," October 2020, https://ws.ndc.gov.tw/Download.ashx?u=LzAwMS9hZG1pbmlzdHJhdG9yLzEwL2NrZ…. 109 年新住民數位發展現況與需求調查報告, page 7,
- 8“Taiwan providing free Wi-Fi in indigenous communities,” Executive Yuan, December 23, 2015, https://english.ey.gov.tw/Page/61BF20C3E89B856/e8320767-808b-4ba4-96a9-…
- 9Gu Yawei, “產業追蹤／愛部落改善連網 原鄉發展邁大步 (Industry Tracking/Love Tribes Improve the Internet and Make Great Steps for Development),” Economic Daily, June 13, 2021, https://money.udn.com/money/story/5612/5528735
|Does the government exercise technical or legal control over internet infrastructure for the purposes of restricting connectivity?||6.006 6.006|
The government does not intentionally restrict connectivity, and the country’s internet infrastructure is privately owned.
Taiwan’s four internet exchanges points—TWIX, TPIX, EBIX, and TWNAP—are all operated by telecommunications companies, although TWNAP works largely only as a data center and not an exchange point.1 The submarine cables connecting international networks are also privately owned.2 ChungHwa Telecom, 35 percent of which is held by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), lays the majority of submarine cables.3 In 2020, Google and Facebook also proposed a plan for a submarine cable to connect the United States and Taiwan.4
- 1National Communications Commission, “網際網路交換中心(Internet Exchange IX) 統計資訊 [Internet Exchange IX Statistics],” Accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news.aspx?site_content_sn=3898. “網際網路交換中心(Internet Exchange IX) 統計資訊,” National Communications Commission, accessed August 12, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news.aspx?site_content_sn=3898
- 2TeleGeography, “Submarine Cable Map,” Last updated June 21, 2021, https://www.submarinecablemap.com/#/country/taiwan.
- 3Chunghwa Telecom, “主要股東 [Major Shareholders],” Accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.cht.com.tw/zh-tw/home/cht/about-cht/corporate-governance/ma…. Securities and Exchange Commission, “CHT: Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd.,” Updated March 17, 2020, https://sec.report/Ticker/CHT.
- 4“Google Set to use US-Taiwan undersea cable,” Chris Chang, Taiwan News, April 9, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3913150
|Are there legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles that restrict the diversity of service providers?||5.005 6.006|
While users have a choice of providers for internet services, certain companies dominate the market. The new Telecommunication Management Act (TMA),1 which was approved in June 2019 and came into effect in July 2020, replaces the previous Telecommunications Act (TA), and relaxes some of its rules. There is a three-year transition period for telecommunication companies to comply with the TMA.2
Previously, under the TA, companies that “install telecommunications equipment or provide telecommunications services” required a license from the Ministry of Communications and to obtain a specific amount of capital.3 However, the TMA loosened these requirements, meaning service providers must now only register.4
Under the TMA’s provisions, direct foreign ownership of telecommunications services is limited to no more than 49 percent, and only 60 percent of shares may be owned indirectly or directly by foreigners.5
The TMA places some obligations on service providers, though they are not particularly onerous, and are often meant to protect consumers. For example, telecom operators must take appropriate measures to protect the confidentiality of communication, provide public and easily accessible information to consumers, separate telecommunications and service fees from unrelated ones, and provide channels for consumers to lodge complaints.6
Previous requirements to enter the market and the high cost of developing infrastructure, among other factors, allowed only a small number of providers to dominate the fixed and mobile market.7 Five major telecommunication companies—Chunghwa Telecoms, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) Asian Pacific Telecom, and Taiwan Star Telecom (T Star)—occupy the majority of the market,8 with Chunghwa Telecom controlling approximately 68 percent.9 ChungHwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, FET, T Star, and Asian Pacific Telecom also provide mobile broadband service, with ChungHwa Telecom reporting the highest number of subscribers at 11.3 million as of December 2020.10 While there were 82 telecommunication companies that offered fixed-line networking as of February 2020, most were small businesses that only provide local services.
The TA classified providers that do not invest in physical lines or equipment as a “Type II” telecom operator. This allowed them to offer services through peering with other telecommunication companies, and to provide added-value amenities.11 Under the TMA, these companies only need to register instead of applying for a license.12
- 1Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Telecommunications Act,” June 26, 2019, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=K0060111&flno=8. Telecommunication Management Act:
- 2“Taiwan: Telecoms, Media and Internet Laws and Regulations 2021,” by Ken-Ying Tseng, ICLG.com, November 12, 2020, https://iclg.com/practice-areas/telecoms-media-and-internet-laws-and-re….
- 3Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Telecommunications Act,” June 26, 2019, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=K0060111&flno=8.
- 4This law has been abolished. Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Regulations for Administration on Network Telecommunications Business,” October 13, 2017, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060050. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=K0060050&flno=8.
- 5See Article 36 of TMA
- 6“Taiwan: Telecoms, Media and Internet Laws and Regulations 2021,” Ken-Ying Tseng, ICLG, https://iclg.com/practice-areas/telecoms-media-and-internet-laws-and-re…; See Article 8 of TMA: https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111
- 7ETtoday, “網路慢之於中華電信真相－NCC才是罪魁禍首(上) [The internet is slow, the truth about Chunghwa Telecom - The NCC Is the Culprit],” August 25, 2012, https://www.ettoday.net/news/20120825/91798.htm.; See the page 149 – 153 of report funded by NCC: https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/17022/3500_35654_170221_1.pdf. According to the interview record with Kuo-Wei Wu, he said that although the number of telco is limited, but the market is still under fierce competition.; Wu Baiwei, “5G頻譜位置競標 中華電遠傳拿下黃金頻段 [5G spectrum location bidding, Chunghwa Telecom won the Golden Frequency,” CNA, February 21, 2020, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202002215007.aspx.
- 8National Communications Commission, “第一類電信事業經營者名單暨其業務項目一覽表 [Telecommunications Operators and a List of Their Business Projects],” February 05, 2020, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=2013&ca….
- 9Chunghwa Telecom, “2020第一季營運報告 [2020 First Quarter Operation1Q Operating Report],” April 30, 2020, of ChungHwa Telecom, page 6: https://www.cht.com.tw/home/cht/-/media/Web/PDF/Investors/Shareholder-S…
- 10Chunghwa Telecom, “Chunghwa Telecom Reports Un-Audited Consolidated Operating Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year of 2020,” Cision PR Newswire, February 04, 2021, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chunghwa-telecom-reports-un-au…. “Chunghwa Telecom Reports Un-Audited Consolidated Operating Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year of 2020,” Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd., February 4, 2021 https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chunghwa-telecom-reports-un-au… Statistic for Numbers of Mobile Broadband Service Users by the end of May 2021, made by NCC, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=5018&ca…
- 11Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Regulations for Administration on Type II Telecommunications Business,” April 13, 2017, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060038. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060038.
- 12Telecommunication Management Act ,Article 13, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111
|Do national regulatory bodies that oversee service providers and digital technology fail to operate in a free, fair, and independent manner?||4.004 4.004|
Regulatory bodies that oversee telecommunications and other internet-related issues in Taiwan are generally seen as free, fair, and independent.
Established in 2006, the National Communications Commission (NCC) is an independent government body responsible for regulating telecommunications and broadcasting services, including overseeing the telecommunications industry, managing domain names and IP addresses, and processing and overseeing licenses;1 it has additionally governed TWNIC since 2017. The NCC’s mission includes promoting sound policy, safeguarding users’ rights, protecting consumer interests, and ensuring fair and effective competition in the market.2 The body is composed of seven commissioners who serve four-year terms, all of whom are nominated by the prime minister and approved by the Legislative Yuan. The prime minister is tasked with appointing both the chairperson and vice chairperson, however, prompting questions about the body’s independence.3 According to a report released by the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation in November 2020, 68 percent of respondents over the age of 20 reported being concerned about the NCC’s independence.4
At the end of 2020, the NCC rejected an application from the pro-Beijing television channel Chung Tien News (CTi TV) for its television license renewal after the NCC had repeatedly fined and issued warnings to the channel for breaking regulatory rules. Due to the license rejection, CTi TV lost its ability to broadcast on television in Taiwan, although its operations on the internet were not affected.5 Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a statement saying that the de facto shutdown of a news channel was an “extreme measure,” but noted the channel’s repeated violations and stated that the NCC’s move did not constitute a violation of press freedom.6
Several other government bodies oversee digital technology. For example, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) oversees competition law as it relates to telecommunication services. Decisions by both the FTC and NCC can be appealed to the judiciary.7 In recent years, several different government bodies have supervised the implementation of Taiwan’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) (see C6). The Department of Cyber Security oversees issues related to security of critical infrastructure (see C8).
The nature of the online information dictates which agency is tasked with particular content regulation (see B2 and B3).8 For example, online content related to food hygiene is handled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The Institute of Watch Internet Network (iWIN), a semiofficial organization funded by several government departments, is responsible for content related to children and youth.
The Ministry of Digital Development (MDD) is expected to be operational in 2022 and is intended to focus on the country’s digital transformation and other internet-related business.9 The government had not yet announced relevant organizational regulations by the end of the coverage period.
- 1National Communications Commission, “本會組織架構 [Organizational Structure],” Last updated June 23, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/content.aspx?site_content_sn=5238&is_his….
- 2National Communications Commission, “Duties, Missions, and Authorities of the NCC,” Accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/english/content.aspx?site_content_sn=12&is_histo…. “Duties, Missions, and Authorities,” -National Communications Commission, accessed August 12, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/english/content.aspx?site_content_sn=12&is_histo…
- 3Taiwan Media Watch Education Foundation, “NCC竟放棄自己的獨立性 [The NCC Gave Up Its Independence],” September 22, 201, https://www.mediawatch.org.tw/work/8754.
- 42020 年 11 月全國性民意調查 摘要報告, “Taiwanese trust in independent government agencies,” Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation, November 24, 2020, accessed August 12, 2021, https://www.tpof.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/2020%E5%B9%B411%E6%9C%8…
- 5Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Telecommunications Management Act,” June 26, 2019, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111. Taiwan takes pro-China cable news TV station CTi off the air, https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/pro-china-news-station-chun…
- 6“Taiwan: the non-renewal of CTi news channel’s licence does not go against press freedom,” Reporters without Borders, November 20, 2020 https://rsf.org/en/news/taiwan-non-renewal-cti-news-channels-licence-do…
- 7Keng-Ying Tseng, “Taiwan: Telecoms, Media and Internet Laws and Regulations 2021,” ICLG.com, November 12, 2020, https://iclg.com/practice-areas/telecoms-media-and-internet-laws-and-re….
- 8Asia University Office of Information and Communication Technology, “網際網路內容管理基本規範及分工原則 [Basic Norms and Principles of Division of Labor for Internet Content Management],” https://ic3.asia.edu.tw/ezfiles/36/1036/img/498/1010247284.doc; Keng-Ying Tseng, “Taiwan: Telecoms, Media and Internet Laws and Regulations 2021,” ICLG.com, November 12, 2020, https://iclg.com/practice-areas/telecoms-media-and-internet-laws-and-re….; https://iclg.com/practice-areas/telecoms-media-and-internet-laws-and-re…
- 9Chen Junhua, “政院推組改新設數位發展部 最快2022年掛牌 [Political Yuan promotes the reorganization of the new Digital Development Department, which will be listed as soon as 2022],” CNA, March 25, 2020, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202103250138.aspx.
|Does the state block or filter, or compel service providers to block or filter, internet content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards?||6.006 6.006|
The government does not generally compel service providers to block or filter websites or social media platforms. However, certain laws authorize the restriction of content online (see B3).
Although the services remain available and unblocked for users looking to access them online, the government increased its efforts to restrict content on Chinese streaming video platform iQIYI, which is owned by the Chinese firm Baidu, during the coverage period.1 In August 2020, the Ministry of Economics announced that starting in September Taiwanese companies could not provide video streaming-related services originating with Chinese companies or people, particularly iQIYI or Tencent. The rule updated the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and formally prohibited companies and individuals in Taiwan to be the agent or distributor of any Chinese over-the-top services (OTT) via television or other broadcast, including the digital-television channel service Media on Demand.2
The Taiwan Association of Human Rights (TAHR) reported in 2018 that the Taipei city government filtered certain content on its free Wi-Fi services provided to public spaces.3 For example, the city government confirmed that it filtered websites related to drug abuse, adult content, gambling, phishing, sex education, and weapons. Information agencies in the cities of New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung reported to the organization that they did not block websites on their wireless networks.
The Ministry of Education’s Network Guardian Angels (NGA) is a content-filtering software available to the public, geared toward parents and educational institutions. According to a national report, NGA was downloaded nearly 99,000 times between January 2020 to November 2020.4 The Taiwan Association for Human Rights found that the NGA’s filtered content is based on unclear standards and has targeted civil society websites, including the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty and Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, a group serving the LGBT+ community.5
- 1Yang Anqi, “OTT TV 專法管什麼？》封殺中資 OTT TV 防洗腦，愛奇藝台灣：文化應交流而非鎖國 [What does OTT TV specialize in? Block CHinese-owned OTT TV to prevent brainwashing, iQiyi Taiwan: Culture should be exchanged rather than locked in the country],” TechNews, July 27, 2020. https://technews.tw/2020/07/27/ncc-draft-bill-on-the-management-of-inte….; Lin Shangzuo, “9月3日後看愛奇藝將明顯變慢！代理商：已申購點數可退費 [Watching iQiyi will be noticeably slower after September 3rd! Agent: refundable for purchased points],” The Storm Media, August 19, 2020, https://www.storm.mg/article/2957819.
- 2Ministry of Economic Affairs, R.O.C., “預告：禁止為大陸地區之公司在臺代理、經銷或從事OTT-TV之相關商業行為 [Notice: It is forbidden to act as an agent or distributor for companies based in mainland China to distribute or engage in business activities in Taiwan],” August 18, 2020, https://www.moea.gov.tw/Mns/populace/news/News.aspx?kind=1&menu_id=40&n….
- 3Ho Ming-Syuan, “2018 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights, April 2018, http://transparency.tahr.org.tw/TITR_Report_2018_en.pdf. Chinese version: http://transparency.tahr.org.tw/TITR_Report_2018.pdf. Ho Ming-Syuan, “2018 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights, April 2018, page 56-57, http://transparency.tahr.org.tw/TITR_Report_2018_en.pdf
- 4The National Report of the 4th Review of Taiwan’s CEDAW Implementation, page 27-28, https://gec.ey.gov.tw/Page/74D0B4667483599D/be81a487-ced5-4150-9c03-39f…
- 5“2020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Page 65-67, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
|Do state or nonstate actors employ legal, administrative, or other means to force publishers, content hosts, or digital platforms to delete content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards?||3.003 4.004|
Expression protected by international human rights standards is generally not forcibly removed, and intermediaries do not face onerous liability for content generated by third parties. However, a range of laws prohibit the publishing of certain kinds of content, and have permitted content removal (see B3).1 TAHR reported, for example, that the government cited the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation 153 times in requests to remove content between 2015 and 2016. The Copyright Act also lays out a notice and takedown procedure that obligates intermediaries to remove third party’s content that infringes on copyright.2
The judiciary has addressed cases that include requests to remove content in recent years. In February 2021, a court ruled that a defendant should remove his review of a medical clinic on Google that included inaccurate information.3 Previously in 2019, a court ruled that a former employee did not have to remove his comment about his former employer after the company claimed it included false information.4
The Institute of Watch Internet Network (iWIN) was established under Article 46 of the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act. The act requires that content hosts limit receiving and browsing of content deemed harmful to the physical and mental health of children and youth, such as that featuring violence, blood, sex, obscenity, and gambling.5 Among other measures, iWIN identifies this content through a complaint mechanism for users, content-screening software, promotion and review of content, a content rating system, and a self-discipline mechanism for service providers.6
iWin reported that in 2020 it received a total of 3,878 complaints: 1,391 cases related to pornography (36 percent), 1,150 cases related to content considered harmful to children (30 percent), 409 cases related to other content considered harmful to the physical and mental health of children (11 percent), 345 cases related to cyberbullying (9 percent), and 290 cases related to false information (7 percent). Among the 3,878 complaints, iWin reported 1,184 to companies, and blacklisted 1,334 pieces of content through filtering software.7 It is unclear what percentage of complaints and reports to companies led to content being removed.
In March 2021, police forced the operator of SWAG, a Taiwanese pornography platform whose servers are located in the United States, to temporarily shut down the site. The shutdown occurred after police conducted a search of the platform’s offices as part of an apparent investigation into whether it was facilitating illegal forms of sex work and offended morality as outlined in the Criminal Code.8
Google reported complying with 59 percent of 19 government requests to remove content filed from July to December 2020. Eleven requests related to electoral law, four to regulated goods and services, three to defamation, and one to copyright violations.9 Facebook restricted nine items during the same period, eight of which related to violations of local laws around international marriage services and one to violating local privacy law.10
Tech platforms have also restricted content for reasons other than requests of the Taiwanese government. A Citizen Lab report released in August 2021 found that keyword filtering attached to Apple’s product engraving service (in which users can have personal messages etched onto their Apple devices) was limiting 338 keywords.11 Restrictions included “social content” keywords such as those deemed sexually explicit, referencing illicit goods and services, and vulgarity, but also included 29 “political content” keywords, including names of high-ranking members of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao Zedong, and the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
- 1Ho Ming-Syuan, “2018 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights, April 2018, page 72, http://transparency.tahr.org.tw/TITR_Report_2018_en.pdf
- 2Copyright Act, Article 90-7 and 90-9, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=J0070017
- 3Judicial Yuan, Laws and Regulations Retrieving System, “臺灣士林地方法院 109 年消字第 3 號民事判決 [Shilin District Court of Taiwan 2020 Civil Judgement No. 3],” February 04, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=SLDV,109%2c%e6%b6%8…. 臺灣士林地方法院 109 年消字第 3 號民事判決,
- 4Judicial Yuan, Laws and Regulations Retrieving System, “臺灣臺北地方法院 107 年訴字第 4230 號民事判決 [Taipei District Court of Taiwan 2019 Civil Judgement No. 4230],” August 28, 2019, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TPDV,107%2c%e8%a8%b….
- 5iWin, “網路內容防護機構 [Institute of Watch Internet Network],” Accessed June 12, 2021, https://i.win.org.tw/.; Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act,” January 20, 2021, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=D0050001.
- 6iWin, ” 關於我們 [About Us],” Accessed June 12, 2021, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=D0050001; Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act,” January 20, 2021, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=D0050001.
- 7iWin, “「iWIN 網路內容防護機構」109 年度申訴案件統計報表 [‘iWIN Internet Content Protection Agency’ 2020 Annual Complaint Case Statistics Report],” 2020, https://i.win.org.tw/upload/data/109_年報_官網版.pdf.
- 8SWAG, “全球性交友平台 [Global Dating Platform],” Accessed July 23, 2021, https://swag.us. Apple Daily, “SWAG’s three-point exposure was blocked. Some netizens complain, while others applaud],” April 03, 2021, https://tw.appledaily.com/local/20210403/HWHCBYFP3BDGDB54FALFGJQNVA/; Janine Sun Rogers, “Adult Streaming Platform SWAG Is in Hot Water With Taiwan’s Authorities,” The News Lens, April 23, 2021, https://international.thenewslens.com/article/150071.
- 9Google, “Transparency Report - Taiwan - Government Requests to Remove Content,” accessed June 12, 2021, https://transparencyreport.google.com/government-removals/by-country/TW…. Chinese version available here: https://transparencyreport.google.com/government-removals/by-country/TW….
- 10Facebook Transparency Center, "Content Restrictions Based on Local Law – Taiwan,” accessed June 12, 2021, https://transparency.fb.com/data/content-restrictions/country/TW.
- 11Jeffrey Knockel and Lotus Ruan, “Engrave Danger: An Analysis of Apple Engraving Censorship across Six Regions,” August 18, 2021, https://citizenlab.ca/2021/08/engrave-danger-an-analysis-of-apple-engra…
|Do restrictions on the internet and digital content lack transparency, proportionality to the stated aims, or an independent appeals process?||4.004 4.004|
Online censorship is not routine in Taiwan, and government-ordered restrictions on content are grounded in law. However, civil society has raised concerns over a lack of transparency about and oversight over which government and law enforcement agencies order removal requests and how frequently they are complied with (see B2).1
A range of laws prohibit publishing certain kinds of content, including the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act, the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation, the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, the Consumer Protection Act, and the Cosmetic Hygiene and Safety Act.2 The Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Diseases, for example, allows the government to compel providers to block access to websites or remove webpages that sell animal products that are banned or subjected to quarantine.3
The judiciary has issued rulings around online censorship. In 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled that Article 24(2) and Article 30(1) of the Cosmetic Hygiene and Safety Act (then known as the Statute for Control of Cosmetic Hygiene), which required that manufacturers get approval from state officials before publicizing online cosmetic advertisements, were unconstitutional.4 The court validated the importance of commercial expression that helps consumers make economic choices.
The right to be forgotten was litigated during the coverage period, as part of an ongoing case. In 2018, the High Court had heard an earlier ruling by a district court in a case where the former owner of a professional baseball team requested, under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), that Google remove content claiming that he engaged in illegal betting and fraud (see C6).5 The courts originally ruled that the PDPA does not explicitly protect the right to be forgotten, and that removal can only occur when the personal data is incorrect, is unlawfully processed or collected, or when the purpose for the data no longer exists. However, in February 2021, the Supreme Court ordered the High Court to hear the case again and determine whether the request is within the scope of the PDPA.6
Several bills were pending during the coverage period that relate to online content. The Digital Communication and Broadcasting Act (DCBA)—a version of which was originally published in January 2017 yet failed to pass7 —was published by the NCC during the coverage period.8 The draft imposes varying degrees of obligation on digital communication and broadcasting service providers. For instance, the draft mandates that companies disclose certain provisions in their term of services, such as privacy and security policies and channels to report inappropriate content. It also requires intermediaries to implement a notice-and-takedown mechanism to remove illegal content immediately after being notified of it in a compliant. The draft has been criticized for offloading to companies responsibility for determining content illegality.9
The Internet Audiovisual Service Management Act (IASMA), introduced in July 2020, would regulate over-the-top platforms (OTT).10 The bill was influenced by concerns that Chinese OTT services, such as iQIYI, were operating in the country without approval from the NCC in accordance with the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. The act would impose certain transparency requirements on OTT services, particularly requiring that a privacy protection policy, a cybersecurity policy, information on use of data, and avenues for user reporting of issues are disclosed in companies’ terms of service. Operators would be required to ensure that content on their platforms does not endanger national security, public order, or the moral good, or impair the emotional or physical well-being of youth. The determination of what constitutes national security is made by the relevant administrative agency. The draft also contains certain registration and reporting requirements by which companies should abide (see B6).11
- 12020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, page 82, the list of regulations related to content removal: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 2Ho Ming-Syuan, “2018 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights, April 2018, page 72, http://transparency.tahr.org.tw/TITR_Report_2018_en.pdf
- 3See Article 38-3 of the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Diseases: https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=M0130003; “Taiwan: Telecoms, Media and Internet Laws and Regulations 2021,” by Ken-Ying Tseng, ICLG.com, November 12, 2020, https://iclg.com/practice-areas/telecoms-media-and-internet-laws-and-re….
- 4Constitutional Court, Judicial Yuan, R.O.C., “大法官解釋進階查詢 [Chief Justice explains advanced inquiry],” January 06, 2017, https://cons.judicial.gov.tw/jcc/zh-tw/jep03/show?expno=744.
- 5Judicial Yuan, Laws and Regulations Retrieving System, “臺灣高等法院 106 年上字第 1160 號民事判決 [The High Court of Taiwan 2017 Civil Judgement No. 1160],” June 20, 2018, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TPHV,106%2c%e4%b8%8….
- 6“Taiwan: Data Protection Laws and Regulations 2021,” Ken-Ying Tseng and Sam Huang, ICLG, https://iclg.com/practice-areas/data-protection-laws-and-regulations/ta…
- 7National Communications Commission, “數位通訊傳播法草案總說明 [General Description of the Draft Digital Communication Law],” Accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/17041/3861_37260_170418_1.pdf.
- 8Siyun Su, “數位發展部成立連動2大修法草案 NCC：進度受影響 [Digital Development Department Establishes Drafts for 2 Large Consecutive Law Amendments, NCC: The Progress Takes a Hit,” CNA, March 17, 2021, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/afe/202103170228.aspx.
- 9He Mingxuan, “恐危害言論自由的數位通訊傳播法 [The Digital Communications Act endangers freedom of speech],” Apple Daily, May 17, 2017, https://tw.appledaily.com/forum/20170517/6MIGMML4IX54VW37UU6STMDA3M/.
- 10Grace Shao and Jojo-fan Yu, “Taiwan: NCC Issues the Draft of a New OTT Law,” Baker McKenzie, July 28, 2020, https://insightplus.bakermckenzie.com/bm/intellectual-property/taiwan-n….
- 11National Communications Commission, “「網際網路視聽服務管理法」（草案）第二次公聽會 會議紀錄 [The second public hearing of ‘Internet Audiovisual Services Management Law’ (Draft) Meeting Minutes],” October 08, 2020, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/20110/5307_45257_201102_4.pdf.
|Do online journalists, commentators, and ordinary users practice self-censorship?||3.003 4.004|
Journalists, civil society groups, activists, and ordinary users generally do not self-censor online. However, some laws that include liability for online content—such as the Social Order Maintenance Act and criminal defamation provisions—may influence self-censorship (see C2 and C3). Self-censorship is also driven by fear of professional or legal reprisals in China and Hong Kong.
High-profile prosecutions have left some Taiwanese people who need to travel to China wary of discussing China-related issues online. For example, Taiwanese activist Lee Ming-Che was arrested by the Chinese government in 2017 while transiting through Macau and later convicted to five years in prison for "subverting state power;" social media content he posted while in Taiwan were used as evidence in court.1 Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which was implemented in June 2020, may also encourage self-censorship of China-related speech because the scope of penalties extends to speech outside of China.2 Separately, some companies, journalists, and users have issued apologies for referring to Taiwan as a country, after receiving backlash from the Chinese government and progovernment actors.3
- 1Taiwan Association for Human Rights, “Free Li Ming-Che: The Joint Statement from NGOs,” April 17, 2017, https://www.tahr.org.tw/node/1806;; Chris Horton and Austin Ramzy, “Asia’s Bastion of Free Speech? Move Aside, Hong Kong, It’s Taiwan Now.,” New York Times, April 14, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/14/world/asia/china-taiwan-hong-kong-fr…. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/14/world/asia/china-taiwan-hong-kong-fr…
- 2Chen Yanqiao, “新華社公布港版國安法（全文) [Xinhua News Agency announced the national security law (full text)],” United Daily News, July 01, 2020, https://udn.com/news/story/121127/4670341.
- 3“'Economic blackmail': Zara, Qantas, Marriott and Delta Air Lines reverse position on Taiwan for fear of angering China,” Tara Francis Chan, January 17, 2018, Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/zara-marriott-qantas-apologized-to-chin…; “John Cena: Fast and Furious star sorry over Taiwan remark backlash,” BBC, May 25, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-57241053; “Even Japanese anime celebrities can’t escape China’s campaign over Taiwan,” Jane Li, Quartz, October 1, 2020, https://qz.com/1911573/virtual-youtubers-suspended-after-calling-taiwan…
|Are online sources of information controlled or manipulated by the government or other powerful actors to advance a particular political interest?||2.002 4.004|
The government does not issue formal directives or attempt to coerce online outlets to influence their reporting. However, political disinformation and online influence operations are a significant issue, particularly those which support the Chinese government’s positions or that emanate directly from Chinese party-state actors.1 The government has taken innovative action to counteract false and manipulated information in the country (see B7).
Among countries categorized as liberal democracies, the think tank Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) in a 2019 report identified Taiwan as being one of the two most targeted by the spread of false information by foreign governments.2 Popular topics have included reunification between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, flaws in the country’s democracy, information discrediting the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and content aimed at smearing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates, particularly during elections.3
An October 2020 report from researchers at the Taiwanese civil society group Doublethink Lab identified several disinformation tactics used to support commentary that aligns with the Chinese party-state’s positions; these originate with a range of actors including the Chinese government, the Communist Party, military agencies, private companies, and ordinary users. The tactics include financial incentives for Taiwanese outlets to broadcast pro-China narratives, the use of “content farm” websites that push out low-quality articles designed to spread quickly on social media, and the deployment of local Taiwanese online influencers and nationalist Chinese netizens to spread pro-Beijing messages.4 Another group, the US-based cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, reported in 2020 that provincial authorities in China have recruited pro-unification influencers in Taiwan with salaries ranging from $740 to $1,460 per month.5
Reports have also alleged that news outlets in Taiwan have received direction or payment from Beijing. Reuters reported in August 2019 that Chinese mainland authorities paid at least five media groups in Taiwan for coverage.6 According to the agency, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office paid RMB 30,000 ($4,600) for two favorable stories about Beijing’s attempts to attract Taiwanese businesspeople to China, which were placed in outlets Reuters did not disclose. Taiwan’s National Security Bureau also alleged in May 2019 that the Chinese government was involved in reviewing editorial content for certain Taiwanese news outlets, but declined to say which.7
A joint investigation from Doublethink Lab and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute released in August 2021 analyzed content-farm websites that target Taiwanese audiences.8 Content on one site, Qiqis.org, was found to demonstrate high bias toward Chinese-government-preferred narratives, running critical stories about the US government generally and the January 6, 2021, Capitol building attack in particular.
Two leading political parties in the country—the DPP and Kuomintang (KMT)—have each claimed that members of the other party have hired or deployed commentators to spread manipulated information online.9 In a report from the Oxford Internet Institute, interviewees claimed that individuals have been paid by election campaigns and political parties to spread messages online, however they did not clarify whether the content was false or particularly misleading.10
- 1Jude Blanchette, Scott Livingston, Bonnie S. Glaser, and Scott Kennedy, “Protecting Democracy in the Age of Disinformation: Lessons from Taiwan,” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), January 2021, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/2101…; Reporters Without Borders (RSF), “China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order,” 中國追求的 - 世界傳媒 - 新 秩 序 [China’s Pursuit - World Media - New Order],” March 22, 2019, https://rsf.org/sites/default/files/en_rapport_chine_web_final.pdf. pp. 17. Chinese version available here: https://rsf.org/sites/default/files/cn_rapport_chine-web_final_0.pdf
- 2Varieties of Democracy Institute, “Democracy Facing Global Challenges: V-Dem Annual Democracy Report 2019,” May 2019, https://www.v-dem.net/media/filer_public/99/de/99dedd73-f8bc-484c-8b91-…
- 3Jude Blanchette, Scott Livingston, Bonnie S. Glaser, and Scott Kennedy, “Protecting Democracy in the Age of Disinformation: Lessons from Taiwan,” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), January 2021, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/2101….; Lilly Min-Chen Lee, Po-Yu Tseng, Shih-Shiuan, Min-Suan Wu, Puma Shen, ‘Deafening Whispers: China’s Information Operation and Taiwan’s 2020 Election,” Doublethink Lab, October 24, 2020, https://medium.com/doublethinklab/deafening-whispers-f9b1d773f6cd Nicholas J. Monaco, “Computational Propaganda in Taiwan: Where Digital Democracy Meets Automated Autocracy,” University of Oxford - Computational Propaganda Research Project, Working paper accessed June 22, 2021, https://blogs.oii.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2017/06/Comprop-… U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, “2019 Report to Congress,” November 2019, https://www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/2019-11/2019%20Annual%20Report….; Poyu Tseng and Puma Shen, “The Chinese Infodemic in Taiwan,” Doublethink Lab, July 26, 2020, https://medium.com/doublethinklab/the-chinese-infodemic-in-taiwan-25e9a….
- 4Lilly Min-Chen Lee, Po-Yu Tseng, Shih-Shiuan, Min-Suan Wu, Puma Shen, ‘Deafening Whispers: China’s Information Operation and Taiwan’s 2020 Election,” Doublethink Lab, October 24, 2020, https://medium.com/doublethinklab/deafening-whispers-f9b1d773f6cd
- 5Jude Blanchette, Scott Livingston, Bonnie S. Glaser, and Scott Kennedy, “Protecting Democracy in the Age of Disinformation: Lessons from Taiwan,” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), January 2021, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/2101….;
- 6Yimou Lee and I-hwa Cheng, “Paid 'news': China using Taiwan media to win hearts and minds on island – sources,” Reuters, August 9, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-china-media-insight/paid-news…
- 7“One Country, One Censor: How China undermines media freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan, Committee to Protect Journalists, December 16, 2019, https://cpj.org/reports/2019/12/one-country-one-censor-china-hong-kong-…
- 8Albert Zhang, Tim Niven, Ariel Bogle, and Elena Yi-Ching Ho, “Chapter 2: Clickbait propaganda: the CCP and news content farms in Taiwan and Australia,” in “Influence for hire. The Asia-Pacific’s online shadow economy,” Australian Strategic Policy Institute, August 2021, https://www.aspi.org.au/report/influence-hire
- 9Wu Su-wei and Kayleigh Madjar, “Parties try to tie DPP to comments by Lin Wei-feng,” Taipei Times, May 26, 2021, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/05/26/2003758071; Lao Lun Shi, “1450」的真正意思是什麼？一張圖看懂緣由於此 [What does ‘1450’ really mean? A picture can help us understand],” Daily View, August 14, 2019, https://dailyview.tw/Popular/Detail/5995.; Fan Lingzhi, “Taiwan DPP’s dark ‘online army’ underbelly in misinformation campaign,” Global Times, March 29, 2021, https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202103/1219763.shtml. Lu Liwen, “"Card God" Yang Huiru sends 10,000 yuan a month to the net army offline? The controversy will be seen once!,” New Talk, December 2, 2019, https://newtalk.tw/news/view/2019-12-02/334692 .; Zhou Yizi, “[Blue Secret Calls the Net Army to Strike Directly 1] [Exclusive Exposure] The Kuomintang does not get rid of the severe epidemic situation,” Mirror Media, March 23, 2020, https://www.mirrormedia.mg/story/20200323inv003/
- 10Nicholas J. Monaco, “Computational Propaganda in Taiwan: Where Digital Democracy Meets Automated Autocracy,” University of Oxford - Computational Propaganda Research Project, Working paper accessed June 22, 2021, https://demtech.oii.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/89/2017/06/Compro….
|Are there economic or regulatory constraints that negatively affect users’ ability to publish content online?||3.003 3.003|
Taiwanese users do not face onerous constraints on their ability to publish content online. Online or digital news outlets are not required to obtain a license in order to publish. Service providers are regulated by the Telecommunications Management Act and must provide services in a nondiscriminatory manner in terms of connection quality, price, condition, and information (see A4).1
Some regulations restrict online advertisement or investment originating from China. The Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area requires government approval for mainland Chinese entities to directly own media properties and entities. It also bans advertisements from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).2
The draft IASMA would require OTT services of a particular size, revenue, traffic, or market influence to register, or face fines between NT$100,000 and NT$1,000,000 (US$3,500 and US$35,000) (see B3).3 Foreign-owned services would be required to set up a local representative if they do not already have one, and report periodically to the NCC about the number of domestic subscribers, traffic and revenue, and user engagement.4 Local telecommunication companies that provide service to illegal OTT services from China can also face onerous fines.5
- 1Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Telecommunications Management Act,” June 26, 2019, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111.
- 2Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area,” July 24, 2019,, Article 34, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=Q0010001; https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=Q0010001. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=Q0010001; Committee to Protect Journalists, “One Country, One Censor: How China undermines media freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan,” Committee to Protect Journalists, December 16, 2019, https://cpj.org/reports/2019/12/one-country-one-censor-china-hong-kong-…. https://cpj.org/reports/2019/12/one-country-one-censor-china-hong-kong-…
- 3Shelley Shan, “Commission bill aims to halt services to illegal Chinese over-the-top providers,” Taipei Times, July 16, 2020, https://taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2020/07/16/2003740010
- 4Grace Shao and Jojo-fan Yu, “Taiwan: NCC Issues the Draft of a New OTT Law,” Baker McKenzie, July 28, 2020, https://insightplus.bakermckenzie.com/bm/intellectual-property/taiwan-n….
- 5See Article 12 and 18 of the draft IASMA: https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/20072/5306_43455_200722_1.pdf
|Does the online information landscape lack diversity and reliability?||4.004 4.004|
Taiwan’s online information and digital media ecosystem reflects varied interests, experiences, communities, and languages. A range of newer online outlets contribute to this diversity. However, the media environment also suffers from political polarization and sensationalist content.1 A study from the Taiwan Media Watch Foundation found that people in Taiwan view the media environment more unreliable and less credible in 2019 than they did in 2014.2
Misinformation online and across Line, Facebook, Instagram, and the popular PTT online bulletin board can undermine people’s ability to access reliable information (see B5).3 A poll conducted by Doublethink Lab of voters during the country’s 2020 presidential and legislative elections found that 80 percent of respondents thought false information online was a “serious” threat, and 70 percent thought their preferred candidates had been targeted with said information.4 Separately, misinformation about vaccines spread after a surge of COVID-19 cases in May 2021, such as that vaccines could cause death in elderly people.5
The government, tech industry, and civil society have designed innovative tools to counteract the impact of false and misleading information in Taiwan (see B5).6 For example, Digital Minister Audrey Tang announced in 2019 that each government department had employed “meme engineers” to respond quickly to disinformation efforts with funny memes. Additionally, users on the messaging app Line can report information for fact-checking to the bot Cofacts, which was created by the country’s decentralized g0v civic tech community.7 Users can report content to the bot on the platform to receive information about its validity. Organizations like Doublethink Lab have also conducted innovative research to uncover and analyze disinformation campaigns and their impact.8
- 1Reporters without Borders, Taiwan, accessed August 1, 2021, https://rsf.org/en/taiwan
- 2Xu Qiongwen and Tang Yunzhong, “2019台灣新聞媒體可信度研究 [2019 Taiwanese News Media Credibility Study],” Taiwan Media Watch Foundation, December 2018, https://www.mediawatch.org.tw/sites/default/files/files/2019%E5%8F%B0%E….
- 3Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC), “2020 Taiwan Internet Report,” Accessed June 08, 2021, https://report.twnic.tw/2020/en/report_en.pdf. Chinese version available here: https://report.twnic.tw/2020/assets/download/TWNIC_TaiwanInternetReport… p.20
- 4Tseng Po-Yu and Chen Yun-Ju, “An analysis on the impact of false information on Taiwanese voters,” Doublethink Lab, May 6, 2021, https://medium.com/doublethinklab/an-analysis-on-the-impact-of-false-in….; Chinese version available here: https://medium.com/doublethinklab-tw/%E5%81%87%E8%A8%8A%E6%81%AF%E5%B0%….
- 5Kathrin Hille, “Taiwan’s unity cracks under Chinese disinformation onslaught,” Financial Times, June 29, 2021 https://www.ft.com/content/f22f1011-0630-462a-a21e-83bae4523da7
- 6Central News Agency, “防制不實訊息 臉書LINE等5大業者帶頭自律 [To prevent fake news, five major players, such as Facebook and Line, take the lead in self-discipline],” June 21, 2019, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201906210183.aspx.; Jude Blanchette, Scott Livingston, Bonnie S. Glaser, and Scott Kennedy, “Protecting Democracy in the Age of Disinformation: Lessons from Taiwan,” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), January 2021, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/2101….
- 7LINE 訊息查證 [fact checker], homepage, accessed June 21, 2021, https://fact-checker.line.me/.; Jude Blanchette, Scott Livingston, Bonnie S. Glaser, and Scott Kennedy, “Protecting Democracy in an Age of Disinformation: Lessons from Taiwan,” Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), January 2021, https://csis-website-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/2101…. pg 19.
- 8Doublethink Lab, accessed August 25, 2021, https://doublethinklab.org/
|Do conditions impede users’ ability to mobilize, form communities, and campaign, particularly on political and social issues?||6.006 6.006|
People in Taiwan can freely use digital platforms and online sources to debate and mobilize around social and political issues, including on social media platforms like Line and Facebook, as well as the online bulletin board PTT.
Current events tend to prompt considerable debate on social media. Among recent such activity, articles supporting a February 2021 referendum on the protection of algae reefs attracted thousands of shares and influenced public opinion on the issue.1
- 1Wu Qinjie, @morethandee, “有一件事情 - 昆蟲擾西很誠摯地拜託大家 - 搶救大潭藻礁 只剩5天!... [ There is one thing that Insect Disturbance [Wu’s nickname] sincerely asks everyone – There are only five days left to rescue Tai Tam Algae Reef!...],” February 22, 2021, text and photos, https://www.facebook.com/morethandee/posts/3686548074762882.
|Do the constitution or other laws fail to protect rights such as freedom of expression, access to information, and press freedom, including on the internet, and are they enforced by a judiciary that lacks independence?||5.005 6.006|
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are protected by Taiwan’s constitution.1 The government has also incorporated free expression and access-to-information protections under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) into domestic law.2 The Freedom of Government Information Law was enacted in 2005.3
Taiwan’s judiciary is independent, and it provides considerable protection for speech (see C3). However, at least one court ruling has undermined strong free expression standards: in 2000, the Constitutional Court stated that the crime of defamation does not violate free speech protections in the constitution (see C2).4
- 1Laws and Regulations Database of TheConstitution of the Republic of China, “Constitution of Republic of China,” January 1, 1947, (Taiwan), https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0000001.
- 2Human Rights in Taiwan, “The Third National Report on ICCPR and ICESCR,” https://www.humanrights.moj.gov.tw/17998/17999/29677/29678/Lpsimplelist.
- 3Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Freedom of Government Information Law,” December 28, 2005, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=I0020026. Chinese version here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=I0020026. The Freedom of Government Information Law, Article 1, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=I0020026
- 4Constitutional Court, Judicial Yuan, R.O.C., “釋字第509 號解釋 [Interpretation No. 509],” July 07, 2000, https://cons.judicial.gov.tw/jcc/zh-tw/jep03/show?expno=509%20.
|Are there laws that assign criminal penalties or civil liability for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards?||2.002 4.004|
A range of laws criminalize online activities. Defamation and slander are criminal offenses. Article 309 of the criminal code imposes up to two months of detention or a fine of NT$9,000 (US$315) for publicly insulting another person, while Article 140 outlines liability of up to six months in prison or a fine if an individual “offers an insult to a public official during the legal discharge of his duties.” Some legislators have argued that Article 140 violates free expression protections and called for amending the criminal code.1
Article 310 of the criminal code imposes up to two years in prison or a fine if an individual is found guilty of “point[ing] out or disseminat[ing] a fact which will injure the reputation of another for purpose that it be communicated to the public” in writing.2 People who allege they are slandered can also request financial compensation. For defamation cases, the law excludes speech that can be proven to be true, that which is related to public concern, and that which is a “fair comment on a fact subject to public criticism.”
Several laws impose liability for disseminating false or misleading information. Under the Social Order Maintenance Act (SOMA), users can be penalized for "spreading rumors in a way that is sufficient to undermine public order and peace" with up to three days of detention or a fine of no more than NT$30,000 (US$1,050).3 The law has been used to investigate online activities (see C3).
From January 2020 to June 2021, Article 14 of the Special Act for Prevention, Relief, and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens was in force. The article imposed up to three years of imprisonment and high fines for the dissemination of rumors or false information regarding epidemics deemed to cause damage to the public and others.4 Similarly, Article 63 of the Communicable Disease Control Act, promulgated in June 2019, outlines a fine of no more than NT$3,000,000 (US$105,000) for spreading rumors or false information about an epidemic that cause substantial harm to the public or others.5
Spreading false information during election periods can also lead to criminal penalties. Article 104 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act imposes a maximum of five years in prison for causing damages to the public by disseminating rumors or fraudulent content in order to elect or not elect a candidate, or for a political proposal.6 In December 2019, the legislature passed the Anti-Infiltration Act, which includes criminal penalties for spreading election-related disinformation that is instructed, funded, or sponsored by hostile foreign forces.7 After the passage of the act, pro-Beijing online media outlet Master Chain announced that it was ending operations in Taiwan.8
Under the country’s Disaster Prevention and Rescue Law, anyone who knowingly reports false information about a disaster faces fines from NT$300,000 to NT$500,000 (US$10,500 to US$17,500).9 The Food Administration Act states that no one shall “deliberately disseminate rumors or false information” relating to market food prices and the implementation of food productive programs, among other issues.10
- 1“Legislative Yuan Proposal, 15th meeting of the 8th and 9th session,” accessed August 22, 2021, https://lis.ly.gov.tw/lygazettec/mtcdoc?PD090815:LCEWA01_090815_00017.; “Legislative Yuan Proposal, 1st meeting of the 9th and 4th session, accessed August 22, 2021, https://lis.ly.gov.tw/lygazettec/mtcdoc?PD090401:LCEWA01_090401_00060.; “Legislative Yuan Proposal, 1st meeting of the 2nd session of the 10th Legislative Yuan,” accessed August 22, 2021, https://lis.ly.gov.tw/lygazettec/mtcdoc?PD100201:LCEWA01_100201_00018
- 2Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Criminal Code,” accessed May 24, 2021, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=C0000001.
- 3Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Social Order Maintenance Act,” January 20, 2021, https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=D0080067&flno=63, Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=D0080067.
- 4Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens,” May 31, 2021, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=L0050039
- 5Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Communicable Disease Control Act,” June 19, 2019, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=L0050001
- 6Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Civil Servants Election And Recall Act,” Article 104, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=D0020010
- 7Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Anti-Infiltration Act,” https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030317
- 8Huang Tzu-ti, “Pro-China Master Chain quits Taiwan,” Taiwan News, January 1, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3848481
- 9Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Disaster Prevention and Protection Act,” May 22, 2019, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=D0120014. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=D0120014&flno=41.
- 10Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Food Administration Act,” July 17, 2019, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=M0030037. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=M0030037.
|Are individuals penalized for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards?||4.004 6.006|
Internet users in Taiwan have been investigated or prosecuted for their online activities, although cases rarely lead to significant penalties like prison terms or steep fines.
Cases under SOMA have increased in recent years, with 151 in 2019 and 233 between January and May 2020 alone.1 While the majority of SOMA cases do not lead to convictions,2 at least four from the coverage period resulted in fines. In May 2021, a user was fined NT$5,000 (US$175) for sharing inaccurate information in a Facebook group claiming that New Taipei City had been locked down due to the coronavirus.3 Another user was fined NT$5,000 over a March 2021 post in a LINE group that incorrectly claimed that people were being given two additional weeks of vacation due to the pandemic.4 Moreover, in April 2021, a high school student was fined NT$2,000 ($US70) for sharing on Facebook inaccurate information that the start date of the next semester was postponed to March 1 instead of the accurate date of February 25.5 Also in April 2021, another user was fined NT$6,000 (US$210) after he posted on LINE falsely claiming that the government was providing a financial subsidy to families due to the pandemic.6
Other investigations under SOMA were dismissed by the judiciary. In February 2021, well-known transgender internet celebrity Chiang Chia-wen, who uses the nickname Wang Yao claimed to be pregnant on Facebook, leading to her being investigated under SOMA.7 The Ministry of Health and Welfare claimed that Wang Yao was misleading the public and that no hospital was approved to conduct uterine transplantation. In May 2021, the court ruled that Wang Yao did not violate SOMA.8
In September 2020, a music teacher was investigated under SOMA for a Facebook post claiming that lunch provided at a Tsai cabinet meeting was extravagant and an abuse of public funds.9 Six other users were also investigated and prosecuted under SOMA for sharing the content. In October, a court ruled that although the users deliberately spread information, the content did not violate the law because it would not cause fear or panic among the public.10 Following the ruling, the administrative agency stated that it would continue to investigate and prosecute rumors. During the previous coverage period, in December 2019, National Taiwan University professor Su Hongda was questioned for violating SOMA over a 2018 Facebook video in which he criticized the National Palace Museum's policies. In January 2020, the court ruled that the content was protected under domestic free expression provisions.11
Following the 2018 suicide of a diplomat stationed in Japan, influencer Slow Yang was charged for violating SOMA and insulting a public office. The charges came in connection with claims that she incited cyber troops to spread rumors that allegedly contributed to the diplomat’s death and insulting public officials.12 The case remained pending as of August 2020.
In mid-2020, a user was charged under SOMA for a YouTube video accusing President Tsai Ing-wen of electoral fraud during the 2020 presidential election. The court ruled in May 2020 that it was a reasonable supervision of election affairs and dismissed the case. Following the court ruling, law enforcement charged at least one user under Article 140 of the Criminal Code for insulting public office, in connection with the video.13
At least two users were also found guilty of and fined for violating Article 14 of the Special Act for Prevention, Relief, and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens during the coverage period. One user, for example, was found to have intentionally posted to Facebook incorrect information that someone tested positive for COVID-19.14
News outlets and journalists have also been subject to criminal defamation charges. For example, in July 2019, the Want Want China Times Media Group filed a criminal defamation suit against the Financial Times’ Kathrin Hille and Taiwan’s state-owned Central News Agency (CNA).15 The charges came after Hille published an article accusing the media group of receiving regular orders from the Chinese government about their news coverage, and after CNA quoted the story in its own coverage.16 In April 2019, the media group also threatened to sue Apple Daily for its coverage claiming the group had been subsidized by Chinese government authorities.17 Separately, Apple Daily was sued for defamation because of their reporting on the personnel struggles and issues with financial reporting at Taiwan's Tatong Company.18 However, the court found the outlet not guilty in April 2021.
- 1“【讀 + 數據】謠言變多了？是真的！網路上的謠言都講了什麼？, [There are more rumors? it is true! What are the rumors on the Internet?],” READr, September 24, 2020, https://www.readr.tw/post/2495.; Pan Weiting, “警方「查水表」去年爆增7倍、僅2成開罰 藍委提案刪《社維法》「散布謠言罪 [The police rate of ‘checking water meters’ exploded last year with a 7x increase, and only 20% of the reports led to a fine,” The Storm Media, July 26, 2020, https://www.storm.mg/article/2883916?mode=whole.
- 2The Control Yuan – Republic of China, “監察委員新聞稿 [Press Release of the Supervisory Committee],” July 09, 2019, https://www.cy.gov.tw/News_Content.aspx?n=125&s=18056.
- 3Zhang Ruizhen, “造謠「新北市封城」還發到44萬人臉書社團 女子不刪挨罰, [Rumors that "New Taipei City is closed" are also sent to 440,000 Facebook community women who are not deleted and punished],” The Liberty Times, June 24, 2021, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/breakingnews/3581070.; Legal Information Retrieval System, May 6, 2021, accessed August 22, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=FYEM,109%2c%e8%b1%9….
- 4Zhang Ruizhen, “Distributing Wu Lung's "散發武肺「強制休假兩週」假消息 男辯「不小心轉發」罰5000元, [Compulsory Leave for Two Weeks" Fake News Male Defenders "Accidentally Forwarding" a Fine of 5,000 Yuan],” The Liberty Times, June 9, 2021, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/breakingnews/3563566 ; Legal Information Retrieval System, April 27, 2021, accessed August 22, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=FYEM,109%2c%e8%b1%9…
- 5Shao Xinjie, “網路散布「開學日延至3月1日」假訊息 台南高中生挨罰 [Tainan high school students were punished for spreading false messages on the Internet that the school day is extended to March 1st,]” United Daily News, April 30, 2021, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/5424059; Legal Information Retrieval System, April 23, 2021, accessed August 22, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=SSEM,110%2c%e6%96%b…
- 6Huang Zuanhan, “明知不實還轉傳疫情假消息 男子判處罰鍰6千元[Man who knows false news about the epidemic is fined 6,000 yuan,]” United Daily News, May 9, 2021, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/5444051; Legal Information Retrieval System, April 27, 2021, accessed August 22, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TNEM,110%2c%e5%8d%9…
- 7Hou Wenting, “罔腰宣稱懷孕案涉不實 高市社維法送辦 [The unreasonable claims that the pregnancy case is false],” CNA, March 03, 2021, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202103035010.aspx.
- 8Legal Information Retrieval System, accessed August 22, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=KSEM,110%2c%e9%9b%8…
- 9Li Yixuan, “網傳蔡政府吃7000元山珍便當 台中音樂老師遭送辦 [It is reported that the Cai government ate a 7,000 yuan Shanzhang lunch, a Taichung music teacher was given away],” SETN.COM, September 10, 2020, https://www.setn.com/News.aspx?NewsID=811993; ; Jason Pan, “Taichung man questioned in lunchbox rumor case,” Jason Pan, Taipei Times, September 11, 2020, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2020/09/11/2003743211.
- 10Li Yiwei, “瘋傳蔡吃7千元便當 7人不罰 [It’s crazy that Cai eat’s a 7,000 yuan lunch and 7 people don’t receive a fine],” Apple Daily, December 15, 2020, https://tw.appledaily.com/headline/20201215/CQPMW3BR7NCQJNONV7KSSGLPQI/.
- 11Lin Changshun and Huang Liyun, “蘇宏達案 法官：合理評論不罰 [Judge in the Su Hongda case: reasonable comments are not punished],” CNA, January 06m 2020, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202001060215.aspx.
- 12Weng Shengli, “網軍案楊蕙如訴委屈：我只是對網路戰爭觀察比較深 [Yang Huiru sued grievances in the cyber military case: I have a deeper observation of cyber warfare],” United Daily News, February 05, 2021, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/5234192.; “原文網址: 蘇啟誠不堪輿論輕生…楊蕙如不認指揮網軍帶風向 法院增設一罪 | ETtoday社會新聞, [Su Qicheng unbearable public opinion to commit suicide...Yang Huiru denied commanding the cyber army to lead the court to add one crime],” ETtoday, February 5, 2021, https://www.ettoday.net/news/20210205/1915134.htm#ixzz75yXd15qo
- 13Wang Pinli, “上傳影片「蔡英文作票400萬」 刑事局：影射中選會人員涉《侮辱公署罪》 [Uploaded the video "Tsai Ing-wen voted 4 million" Criminal Bureau: Alluding to the ‘Insult to the Commissioner's Office’ by insinuating the elected officials,]” Storm, June 14, 2020, https://www.storm.mg/article/2762978
- 14Legal Information Retrieval System, January 25, 2021, accessed August 22, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TNDM,109%2c%e7%b0%a…
- 15Reporters Without Borders, “Taiwan: Abusive libel suit against Financial Times correspondent,” Reporters Without Borders, July 24, 2019, https://rsf.org/en/news/taiwan-abusive-libel-suit-against-financial-tim….
- 16U.S. Department of State, “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practice: Taiwan,” 2020, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-prac…. CNA, “金融時報：國台辦直接控制台媒 吹捧特定參選人 [Financial Times: The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council directly asks media to support specific candidates],” July 17, 2019, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201907170202.aspx. U.S. Department of State, “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practice: Taiwan,” 2020, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-prac…, “金融時報：國台辦直接控制台媒 吹捧特定參選人 [Financial Times: The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council directly consoles the media to tout specific candidates,]” Central News Agency, July 17, 2019, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201907170202.aspx
- 17Focus Taiwan (CNA English), “Taiwan-based Want Want threatens defamation suit against Apple Daily,” April 23, 2019, https://focustaiwan.tw/society/201904230027; Reporters Without Borders,; “Taiwan: Abusive libel suit against Financial Times correspondent,” Reporters Without Borders, July 24, 2019, https://rsf.org/en/news/taiwan-abusive-libel-suit-against-financial-tim…
- 18Judicial Yuan Court Information Retrieval System, “臺灣臺北地方法院 109 年自字第 60 號刑事判決 [Taipei District Court Criminal Court 2020 Judgement No. 60],” April 01, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TPDM,109%2c%e8%87%a….
|Does the government place restrictions on anonymous communication or encryption?||3.003 4.004|
There are some limits on anonymous communication, as Taiwan has mandatory SIM card registration requirements.1 Telecommunications-related laws and regulations require service providers to record basic user information, including names and identification number, when selling all telecommunications numbers (including prepaid SIM cards).2 The NCC emphasized in 2017 that registration assists relevant agencies in criminal and fraud investigation and prevention.3
Residents of Taiwan can freely use encryption technology. The Communication Security and Surveillance Act (CSSA) authorizes law enforcement agencies to intercept wired and wireless telecommunications signals with court authorization.4 There is currently no explicit legal obligation for telecommunications companies to decrypt messages or provide decryption keys to law enforcement agencies, although they should ensure that software is compatible with interception efforts so that they can assist government surveillance.5 Some within law enforcement agencies have complained that failure to decrypt undermines criminal investigations.6
In September 2020, the Ministry of Justice released the Technology Investigation Act, which would empower law enforcement agencies that have a court order to access users’ electronic devices, including encrypted communications, via in-person contact, network transfer, or other necessary means such as malware (see C5).7
- 1Privacy International, “Timeline of SIM Card Registration Laws,” Privacy International, accessed May 24, 2021, https://privacyinternational.org/long-read/3018/timeline-sim-card-regis….
- 2National Communications Commision, “第二類電信事業管理規則 [Second category of telecommunications business management rules],” August 22, 2014, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/law_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=3584&is_….
- 3National Communications Commision, “新聞稿 [Press Release],” September 04, 2017, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=8&sn_f=….
- 4Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Communication Security and Surveillance Act,” May 23, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=K0060044&flno=3.
- 5Library of Congress, “Government Access to Encrypted Communications: Taiwan,” Library of Congress, accessed May 24, 2021, https://www.loc.gov/law/help/encrypted-communications/taiwan.php.
- 6Lin Jianlong, “用科技治科技犯罪 解執法困境 [Using technology could help law enforcement overcome its difficulties solving technology-related crimes],” United Daily News, September 25, 2020, https://udn.com/news/story/7339/4889147.
- 7Ministry of Justice, “法檢字第10904527940號 [Legal Inspection No. 10904527940],” Draft Technology Investigation Act, September 08, 2020, https://www.moj.gov.tw/Public/Files/202009/70320090817536d83f.pdf.
|Does state surveillance of internet activities infringe on users’ right to privacy?||3.003 6.006|
Taiwan’s constitution expressly guarantees secret communications and requires oversight for law enforcement agencies to monitor people’s communications.1 Judicial interpretations of the constitution have also protected the right to privacy and the right to self-determination of information.2 Additionally, the Personal Data Protection Act stipulates the collection, processing, and utilization of personal data by government agencies and the private sector (see C6).3 However, certain surveillance laws and procedures undermine these privacy rights in practice.
The Communication Security and Surveillance Act (CSSA) stipulates that an “interception warrant” approved by a court is required to access the content of communications for a range of alleged crimes that impose a minimum of a three-year prison term.4 For the same type of crimes, a prosecutor can apply for an “access warrant” from a court to access metadata records. However, in urgent situations and for specific felonies, the prosecutor does not require the court’s permission and can instead inform the enforcement authority to start surveillance.5 Within 24 hours of doing so, the prosecutor must apply for the warrant; if the court does not issue a warrant within 48 hours, the surveillance ceases. For certain serious crimes, including those that could result in prison terms of at least 10 years, prosecutors can directly access metadata without applying for a judicial warrant.6 The Code of Criminal Procedure also lays out provisions for law enforcement authorities to access personal data.7
The CSSA requires that the enforcement unit and the supervisory unit publish statistical reports about communication surveillance and communication record retrieval.8 According to the statistical report of the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice, there were approximately 56,000 communications surveillance cases9 and approximately 123,000 communication records retrieval cases in 2020.10 More than 90 percent of cases did not require the approval from a court.11 In its Internet Transparency Report, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights reported that the lack of judicial review over requests has been increasingly normalized.12
The CCSA empowers the National Security Bureau (NSB) to issue an interception warrant itself without judicial oversight during times of emergency to conduct surveillance on the domestic communication of “foreign forces or hostile foreign forces” for the purposes of national security.13 The NSB is not required to disclose its surveillance activity.
The Code of Criminal Procedure also lays out provisions for law enforcement authorities to access non-telecommunication personal data with a “search warrant” approved by a court or by receiving voluntary consent of the person being searched.14
The draft Technology Investigation Act, introduced during the coverage period, would increase authorities’ ability to monitor communications.15 For example, prosecutors could use GPS or other location-tracking tools for a two-month period of investigation without a warrant.16 The draft also authorizes police to use drone or aerial devices, on which Dirtbox-like devices—powerful devices that can facilitate surveillance by impersonating a cell phone tower—may be installed, and which may conduct surveillance for up to 30 days. Electronic devices could also be hacked into, and authorities may install malware to monitor communications (see C4). The Department of Justice cited new forms of digital crimes, particularly those coordinated on messaging apps, as necessitating the new powers.17 Civil society and other stakeholders criticized the draft’s provisions as permitting major violations to the right to privacy, and other human rights.18 It remained pending at the end of the coverage period.
Law enforcement have access to and deploy "M-Car” devices, which are base stations within a car that can intercept a target’s mobile phone signal to detect their location. After obtaining the communication records and user information, law enforcement agencies can use the M-Car device to capture International Mobile Equipment Identities (IMEIs) and International Mobile Subscriber Identities (IMSIs), and compare the different signal strengths to accurately locate the user. There are currently no clear rules for the use of M-Car devices. However, a court in February 2021 held that the use of the device to obtain location information of the parties is a legal method for law enforcement.19
It is unclear whether the government has access to spyware technology, although some reports suggest that it does. In a 2015 report, the Toronto-based organization Citizen Lab identified the Taiwanese government or law enforcement as being “suspected customers” of FinFisher, and traced FinFisher servers to the country.20 Previously, government agencies were found to have been in conversation with the now defunct Italian firm Hacking Team about purchasing spyware, although there is no evidence that it was purchased.21
There are also concerns that state agencies conduct social media surveillance. The NSB admitted in 2018 that they monitor social media in order to track disinformation emanating from China and to ensure national security.22 Other government units have also been found to have purchased monitoring and analytic system.23
- 1Constitutional Court - R.O.C. Judicial Yuan, “釋字第631號解釋 [Interpretation No. 361],” July 20, 2007, https://cons.judicial.gov.tw/jcc/zh-tw/jep03/show?expno=631.
- 2Constitutional Court - R.O.C. Judicial Yuan,“釋字第585號解釋 [Interpretation No. 585],” December 15, 2004, https://cons.judicial.gov.tw/jcc/zh-tw/jep03/show?expno=585、 Constitutional Court - R.O.C. Judicial Yuan, “釋字第603號解釋 [Interpretation No. 603],” September 28, 2005, https://cons.judicial.gov.tw/jcc/zh-tw/jep03/show?expno=603.
- 3Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Personal Data Protection Act,” December 30, 2015, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=I0050021. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?PCode=I0050021.
- 4Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Communication Security and Surveillance Act,” May 03, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=K0060044&flno=5. Article 5 of the Communication Security and Surveillance Act: https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044
- 5Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Communication Security and Surveillance Act,” Article 11-1, May 03, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=K0060044&flno=5.
- 6Article 11-1 of CSSA
- 7Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 131-1: https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=C0010001
- 8Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Communication Security and Surveillance Act,” May 23, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044. Chinese version: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044.
- 9Judicial Yuan, “109年通訊監察統計 [2020 Communications Statistics],” February 18, 2020, https://www.judicial.gov.tw/tw/cp-1759-374763-7db5f-1.html.
- 10Judicial Yuan, “109年通訊監察統計 [2020 Communications Statistics],” February 18, 2020, https://www.judicial.gov.tw/tw/cp-1759-374763-7db5f-1.html.; https://www.rjsd.moj.gov.tw/rjsdweb/common/WebList3_Report.aspx?list_id…
- 11Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), “2020台灣網路透明報告(2017-2018) [2020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report (2017-2018)],” 2020, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view. pp.40-42.
- 12Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), “2020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report,” page 41: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 13Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Communication Security and Surveillance Act,” May 23, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawSingle.aspx?pcode=K0060044&flno=3.
- 14Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 128, 128-1, 131-1: https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=C0010001
- 15Ministry of Justice, “法檢字第10904527940號 [Legal Inspection No. 10904527940],” Technology Investigation Act, September 08, 2020, https://www.moj.gov.tw/Public/Files/202009/70320090817536d83f.pdf.
- 16“Data Protection & Privacy 2021,” Chambers and Partners, March 9, 2021, https://practiceguides.chambers.com/practice-guides/data-protection-pri…
- 17Jason Pan, “Tech crimes required new tech tools: official,” Jason Pan, Taipei Times, September 17, 2020, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2020/09/17/2003743574.
- 18Zhou Guanru, “無視人權與民主參與的科偵法 [Scientific investigation law ignores human rights and democratic participation],” Apple Daily, September 15, 2020, https://tw.appledaily.com/forum/20200915/RBK53IRW4NGCVPIQ766UVHFB5Y/.; “[Submission] A draft law on scientific investigation that ignores human rights and democratic participation,“ Taiwan Human Rights Promotion Association, September 15, 2020, https://www.tahr.org.tw/news/2777 ; Zhou Zhihao, “法務部推科技偵查法 法界：帶頭當駭客是政府該做的？ [The Ministry of Legal Affairs pushes the science and technology to investigate the legal circle: Is the government to take the lead in being a hacker?],” United Online Company, September 16, 2020, https://udn.com/news/story/6656/4864467; https://udn.com/news/story/6656/4864467
- 19Judicial Yuan Court Information Retrieval System, “臺灣高等法院 109 年上易字第 1683 號刑事判決 [The High Court of Taiwan 2020 Criminal Judgment No. 1683],” January 27, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TPHM,109%2c%e4%b8%8….
- 20“Pay No Attention to the Server Behind the Proxy,” Bill Marczak, John Scott-Railton, Adam Senft, Irene Poetranto, and Sarah McKune, “Pay No Attention to the Server Behind the Proxy,” Citizen Lab, October 15, 2015, https://citizenlab.ca/2015/10/mapping-finfishers-continuing-proliferati….
- 21Wikileaks, “Hacking Team,” Accessed June 24, 2021, https://wikileaks.org/hackingteam/emails/?q=taiwan&mfrom=&mto=&title=&n….; Chen Xiaoli, “維基解密公布100多萬筆Hacking Team內部郵件 [WikiLeaks publishes more than 1 million internal Hacking Team emails,]” iThome, July 13, 2015, https://www.ithome.com.tw/news/97348 , Huang Yanfen, “刑事局：曾洽詢HackingTeam監聽產品，擔憂違反人權隱私而未採購 [Criminal Bureau: once inquired about HackingTeam's monitoring products, but failed to purchase for fear of violating human rights and privacy,]” iThome, 2015, https://www.ithome.com.tw/news/97374
- 22澄清媒體報稿「國安局令蒐報社群媒體」, September 14, 2018, https://www.nsb.gov.tw/news20180914_1.htm; Zhu Guanyu, “情蒐媒體社群，進行選舉操作？國安局澄清：對抗假新聞 [Searching for the media community to conduct election operations? National Security Bureau clarifies: fight against fake news],” The Storm Media, September 14, 2018, https://www.storm.mg/article/496405
- 23Citizens Trust for Public Opinion Survey Methods by Government- A Comparative Study of Public Opinion Analysis by Telephone and Internet, 2014, Lu, Jian Yi, https://ah.nccu.edu.tw/item?item_id=84236; The Government e-Procurement System (政府電子採購網) can be found and can be searched “輿情” (public opinion): https://web.pcc.gov.tw/prkms/prms-searchBulletionClient.do?root=tps
|Does monitoring and collection of user data by service providers and other technology companies infringe on users’ right to privacy?||3.003 6.006|
The Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) governs the collection, processing, and usage of personal data, including by the private sector and nongovernmental agencies. The law broadly defines personal data to include any data that can be used to directly or indirectly identify an individual, including medical information, education, financial situations, social activities, and more. PDPA also regulates the cross-border transfer of data,1 and stipulates that individuals can apply to a court for relief if a public or private actor violates the law.
The PDPA lacks an independent and dedicated competent authority overseeing its implementation, although the law’s Enforcement Rules include regulation and supervision in a more decentralized manner. Since 2018, for example, the National Development Council has established a dedicated office overseeing PDPA.2 In 2019, the government solicited public comments to determine whether the PDPA should be amended to fully comply with principles in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.3
The TMA and the CSSA require service providers and the telecommunications industry to cooperate with criminal investigations and comply with law enforcement and other government authorities’ surveillance requirements (see C5).4
Government units with certain investigative powers have also gone directly to state agencies and private companies to request personal data without first receiving a court order or other oversight.5 For example, the Ministry of Economic Affairs between 2017 and 2018 had a 100 percent success rate in receiving information from the 1,112 requests it filed for personal information. 112 of the requests were to government agencies, with 1,000 to nongovernment agencies, including Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile CO., and Yahoo! Taiwan Holdings Limited.6 Between 2015 and 2016, the Ministry of Finance submitted 350 requests with a 99.4 percent success rate. The Criminal Investigation Bureau also reportedly issued 565 requests to Facebook through this process, with a 52.9 percent success rate, between 2015 and 2016.7
Several laws mandate different requirements for data retention.8 Telecommunication providers are required to store communication records, subscriber information, and billing details for at least a year.9
The government increased data collection and other monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic, practices that have been criticized by civil society groups and other experts as lacking legality and proportionality.10 In February 2020, the Special Act for Prevention, Relief, and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens was enacted, giving the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) broad power to conduct contact tracing and publicize personal information.11 The act states that personal information will be “processed in accordance with related regulations for personal data protection after the end of the pandemic” and the government has also claimed it will delete stored data after the pandemic.12
The Electronic Fence System, which uses mobile location tracking data to ensure individuals remain in quarantine, was in effect during the coverage period.13 The CECC can access aggregated data from the system, and police responding to quarantine-related alerts can access an individual’s name, phone number, and address. Those in quarantine must keep their phones on in order for the tracking to work.
In May 2021, the government introduced the 1922 SMS contact-tracing system, which uses QR codes to track when users enter or leave different locations, including stores, government buildings, and public transportation venues.14 Mobile providers help facilitate the tracking: once an individual tests positive for COVID-19, a contact tracer provides their phone number to the telecom provider and then the company analyzes location data to determine who was in proximity of that individual. The data is purportedly only supposed to be used for epidemiological investigations.15 However, in June, a judge of the Taichung District Court alleged that the service was used to locate an accused individual in a criminal investigation.16 The NCC responded by again stating that the text service is only used for epidemiological purposes.17
Additionally, in February 2020, a collective infection on the cruise ship Diamond Princess prompted the government to obtain mobile phone location information of over 600,000 people from telecommunication companies, for contact tracing.18
- 1Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Personal Data Protection Act,” December 30, 2015, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=I0050021. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?PCode=I0050021.; The Research Report commissioned by National Development Council, page 211, ttps://www.ndc.gov.tw/nc_1871_29722
- 2National Development Council, “ ‘個人資料保護專案辦公室’ 正式揭牌 [’Personal Data Protection Project Office‘ Officially Unveiled],” July 04, 2018, https://www.ndc.gov.tw/nc_27_29899.
- 3Kne-Ying Tseng, “Taiwan- Data Protection Overview,” Kne-Ying Tseng, Data Guidance, July 2020, https://www.dataguidance.com/notes/taiwan-data-protection-overview;
- 4Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “The Communication Security and Surveillance Act,” May 23, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044.
- 52020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 62020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 72018 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, http://transparency.tahr.org.tw/TITR_Report_2018_en.pdf
- 8Laws & Regulations Database of the Republic of China, “Regulations Governing Anti-Money Laundering of Financial Institutions,” article 2 and 12, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=G0380252
- 9Laws and Regulations Database of the Republic of China,“電信事業用戶查詢通信紀錄作業辦法 [Operational Measures for Inquiry of Regulation on Users of the Telecommunications Businesses Inquiring Communication and Account Records by Telecommunications Users],” July 05, 2007, , Article 4, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060125.
- 10Covid-19 and Data Privacy Challenges in Taiwan, Chuan-Feng Wu, https://lexatlas-c19.org/covid-19-and-data-privacy-challenges-in-taiwan….; 【台權會聲明】當法治國遇上病毒：勿濫用概括條款，防疫與民主才能共存, https://www.tahr.org.tw/news/2622.; 李榮耕觀點：警察，我在這裡—簡訊實聯制的法律依據何在？, https://www.storm.mg/article/3770196
- 11Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens,” April 21, 2020, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=L0050039. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=L0050039.
- 12“Regulating Electronic Means to Fight the Spread of COVID-19,” Library of Congress, accessed August 25, 2021, https://perma.cc/GRY3-VQPJ#_ftnref18
- 13“How Taiwan is tracking 55,000 people under home quarantine in real time,” Mary Hui, Quartz, April 1, 2020, https://qz.com/1825997/taiwan-phone-tracking-system-monitors-55000-unde…; Melyssa Eigen, Flora Wang, and Urs Glasser, “Country Spotlight: Taiwan’s Digital Quarantine System,” Berkman Klein Center, July 31, 2020, https://cyber.harvard.edu/story/2020-07/country-spotlight-taiwans-digit…
- 14“Executive Yuan introduces contact tracing text messaging service,” Department of Information Services, Executive Yuan, May 19, 2021, https://english.ey.gov.tw/Page/61BF20C3E89B856/efa00859-03c3-4349-82c7-…
- 15Audrey Tang, “1922 SMS: Easy and secure contact tracing,” Commonwealth, May 20, 2021, https://english.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=2986
- 16我必須成為吹哨者：「簡訊實聯制」資訊遭利用，指揮中心請儘速反應, https://opinion.udn.com/opinion/story/120701/5542571
- 17Shelley Shan, “COVID-19: SMS system not used by police,” Taipei Times, June 22, 2021, https://taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/06/22/2003759599
- 18Chi-Mai Chen et al., “Containing COVID-19 Among 627,386 Persons in Contact With the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Passengers Who Disembarked in Taiwan: Big Data Analytics,” Journal of medical Internet research. May 2020, https://www.jmir.org/2020/5/e19540/.
|Are individuals subject to extralegal intimidation or physical violence by state authorities or any other actor in relation to their online activities?||4.004 5.005|
Users are generally free from physical violence or other serious threats due to their online activity, although online harassment remains a concern.
“Cyber manhunts” refer to the identification and tracking down of someone following criticism or their involvement in controversial events, and often include doxing. In early April 2021, following a fatal derailing of a train, online users tried to identify who caused the crash. One passenger was mistakenly accused of being at fault and was subject to online harassment.1 In December 2020, after an airline pilot was infected with COVID-19 and broke Taiwan’s 253-day zero-diagnosed record, the pilot’s personal information and family background were exposed online by users.2 Another woman was incorrectly alleged to have contracted the virus from the pilot.
Brian Hioe, editor for the New Bloom Magazine, reported facing harassment and doxing after he was quoted raising privacy concerns about Taiwan's COVID-19 measures tracking people in quarantine in a BBC article.3
Although not routine, users have faced physical threats or violent incidents in relation to online activities during previous coverage periods. In March 2020, prominent YouTube personality Tsai Aga and his wife were attacked by an unknown assailant in connection with his videos.4
- 1Lai Xiaotong, “台鐵出軌》我是乘客！被誤認義祥工人遭肉搜 他不排除提告 [‘Taiwan Railway Derails’ I am a passenger! Workers who were mistakenly identified as Yixiang were searched for meat. He does not rule out complaints],” Liberty Times, April 05, 2021, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/breakingnews/3490246.
- 2Xiu Ruiying, “遭網友肉搜影射為廣達女 曾姓女子發聲明否認「準備提告」[Netizen Rousou alluded to be a Quanta woman. A woman surnamed Zeng issued a statement denying that she was ready to sue],” United Daily News, December 23, 2020, https://udn.com/news/story/120940/5115790.
- 3Iris Hsu, “Reporter Brian Hioe on dealing with misinformation in Taiwan amid pandemic,” Committee to Protect Journalists, April 14, 2020, https://cpj.org/2020/04/reporter-brian-hioe-on-dealing-with-misinformat….
- 4Xiao Yajuan, “他花30萬撂人打蔡阿嘎、二伯 法院判決結果出爐 [He used 300,000 people to try and beat beating Tsai Aga, the court verdict was released],” United Daily News, August 21, 2020, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/4799925.
- 5“Lin Jingyi was sour that "that divorced 50-year-old aunt", the DPP Women's Department spoke out,” Apple Daily, June 30, 2021, https://tw.appledaily.com/life/20210630/IZ4ABKNYDRHO3MRTNNBKK7B2BQ/; “Participated in the gay parade, was scolded and disgusted, Huang Jie criticized the bullying and sue,” FTV News, November 4, 2020, https://www.ftvnews.com.tw/news/detail/2020B04U04M1?fbclid=IwAR2jYetGG_…
- 6Executive Yuan, “加強保護跟騷受害人 行政院會通過「跟蹤騷擾防制法」草案 [Strengthening the protection of harassment victims. The Executive Yuan will pass a draft of the ‘Stalking Harassment Prevention Law’],” April 22, 2021, https://www.ey.gov.tw/Page/9277F759E41CCD91/9b052834-00e3-4796-a32a-f6f….
|Are websites, governmental and private entities, service providers, or individual users subject to widespread hacking and other forms of cyberattack?||1.001 3.003|
Taiwan faces frequent overseas cyberattacks, emanating from Beijing in particular.
The country’s Department of Cyber Security said in 2019 that Taiwan faced about 30 million technical attacks every month, such as webpage defacements and DDoS attacks, half of which are speculated to originate in China.1 In September 2020, the government reported that at least 10 agencies and an estimated 6,000 email accounts had been targeted since 2018,2 with four Chinese government-backed hacking groups believing to have been involved.3
In its 2020 country report on human rights practices, the US Department of State noted that Chinese government actors have also conducted cyberattacks against Taiwanese journalists’ computers and mobile phones.4
In May 2020, around the inauguration of the president, documents from the staff of the presidential office were leaked to reporters.5 Government officials also claimed certain documents were altered. Also in May, hackers sent phishing emails from the Office of the President to legislators.6 There have been no reports or further information about the identity of the hackers.
Data leaks are also an issue in Taiwan. In May 2020, an international security company pointed out that there are more than 20 million Taiwanese household registration data items circulating on the dark web.7
Taiwan’s Cyber Security Management Act oversees the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure providers. It requires that public agencies formulate cybersecurity maintenance plans as well as stipulates reporting and responding mechanisms when facing security incidents.8 The Executive Yuan also established a Cyber Security Office.9
- 1BBC, “US and Taiwan hold first joint cyber-war exercise,” November 4, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50289974; Minyan Jiang, "台美首次網攻演練 資安處：台每月遭攻擊3000萬次 [Taiwan and the United States’ first cyber attack drills, Information Security Office: Taiwan is attacked 30 million times a month],” CNA, November 04, 2019, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/201911045002.aspx. “US and Taiwan hold first joint cyber-war exercise,” BBC, November 4, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50289974; 2020 National report of national cyber security status, page 1-16, https://nicst.ey.gov.tw/Page/7AB45EB4470FE0B9/7234b46b-fe52-4295-8bae-4…
- 2Yimou Lee, “Taiwan says China behind cyberattacks on government agencies, emails,” Yimou Lee, Reuters, August 19, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-cyber-china/taiwan-says-china….
- 3Lawrence Chung, “Mainland Chinese hackers attacked government agencies to steal data, Taiwan says,” Lawrence Chung, South China Morning Post, August 19, 2020, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3098012/mainland-chin….
- 4U.S. Department of State, “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practice: Taiwan,” 2020, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-prac….
- 5Wen Guixiang, “駭客入侵變造蔡蘇會資料 府報案處理 [Hackers invaded and altered Cai Suhui’s data, it has been reported to the government for handling],” CNA, May 16, 2020, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202005160002.aspx; Sophia Yang, “Taiwan Presidential Office hacked, documents linked to power struggle leaked,” Sophia Yang, Taiwan News, May 17, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3935347.
- 6Chen Shumin and Lin Zhijiang, “境外駭客攻擊 假冒總統府發信騙立委個資 [Overseas hacker attacks fake presidential palace and sends letter to defraud legislators],” PTV News, May 29, 2020, https://news.pts.org.tw/article/480890.
- 7Kelvin Chen, “Taiwan government database leaked on dark web,” Taiwan News, May 30, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3942167.
- 8Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Cyber Security Management Act,” June 06, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030297. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030297.
- 9Laws and Regulations Database, “Cyber Security Management Act,” June 06, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030297. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030297.
See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.See More
Global Freedom Score94 100 free
Internet Freedom Score79 100 free
Freedom in the World StatusFree