Taiwan hosts one of the freest online environments in Asia. The information landscape is characterized by affordable internet access, diverse content, and a lack of website blocks or internet shutdowns. An independent judiciary protects free expression. Civil society, the technology 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 has allowed three peaceful transfers of power between rival parties since 2000, and protections for civil liberties are generally robust. Ongoing concerns include inadequate safeguards against the exploitation of foreign migrant workers, and the Chinese government’s efforts to influence policymaking, the media, and democratic infrastructure in Taiwan.
- Major mobile service providers Taiwan Mobile and Taiwan Star Telecom (T Star) announced a proposed merger in December 2021, and Far EasTone (FET) and Asia Pacific Telecom (APT) announced merger plans in February 2022. Regulators were still considering the proposals, which could dramatically reshape the market for internet users, at the end of the coverage period (see A4).
- Authorities mistakenly blocked CoinMarketCap, a cryptocurrency exchange and media platform, in September and October 2021 as part of a fraud investigation, making for the first such restriction in recent years (see B1).
- Policymakers released new draft policies and frameworks to govern the online environment throughout the coverage period, including an updated draft framework for a bill regulating over-the-top (OTT) service providers (see B3).
- Internet users faced fines and suspended prison sentences over purported COVID-19-related misinformation (see C3).
- In April 2022, the government ended the mandatory use of the 1922 short-message service (SMS) contact-tracing system, which uses QR codes to track users’ locations, citing the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic (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. DataReportal’s Digital 2022 report placed Taiwan’s internet penetration rate at 91 percent and counted 21.7 million internet users.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 via a variety of connection standards; fixed-line broadband options include fiber-optic and digital subscriber line (DSL) connections, while mobile users rely on fourth- and fifth-generation (4G and 5G) technology. Free public Wi-Fi services are also available.3 According to the National Communications Commission (NCC), 5.8 million people subscribed to fixed-line broadband networks in 2019,4 while the penetration rate for mobile networks was 114 percent.5 There are nearly 10,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.6
The government is dedicated to upgrading mobile services to 4G standards and promoting 5G.7 2G was suspended in 2017,8 and telecommunications companies stopped offering 3G contracts in 2018.9 Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan’s largest telecommunications company, will stop providing 3G technical assistance for calls by 2024.10 Major service providers, such as Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, and FET, began providing 5G service in major cities and several other areas in 2020.11 The number of 5G service users reached about 3.9 million by the end of October 2021.12
Taiwanese internet users enjoy fast internet speeds. In May 2022, Ookla reported Taiwan’s median mobile download and upload speeds as 49 Megabits per second (Mbps) and 11 Mbps, respectively. Fixed-line broadband download and upload speeds were reported at a median 104.1 Mbps and 44.9 Mbps.13
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.14
- 1Simon Kemp, “Digital 2022: Taiwan,” DataReportal, February 15, 2022, https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2022-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
- 12Business Next. "5G普及率低是因資費太貴？電信業者喊冤：台灣5G吃到飽已是國際最便宜"[Is the low 5G penetration rate because the tariffs are too expensive? Telecom industry complains: Taiwan's 5G unlimited data plan is the cheapest in the world], access March 07, 2022, https://www.bnext.com.tw/article/65734/ncc-5g-ntt-sk-telecom
- 13Taiwan’s Mobile and Fixed Broadband Internet Speeds, Speedtest, accessed July 20, 2021, https://www.speedtest.net/global-index/taiwan#mobile
- 14The 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 on mobile networks, is affordable. According to a TWNIC report, 95 to 97 percent of users spend less than 1 percent of their monthly income for mobile network access.1 The Inclusive Internet Index 2022 report noted improvements in the cost of internet access relative to income.2
There is a slight geographic digital divide, although it has been diminishing in recent years.3 A 2020 TWNIC report stated that 84 percent of people above the age of 12 in nonrural areas had internet access, compared to only 70 percent in rural areas.4
The age-based disparity in access is gradually improving. In 2020, the National Development Council (NDC) reported that 86.6 percent of people above the age of 12 accessed the internet, compared to 77.6 percent of people between the ages of 60 to 64 and 46.8 percent of people over the age of 65. Ratios slightly improved compared to 2019.5
There is no significant gender-based access divide. Some surveys report that men use the internet 2 to 5 percent more than women.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 established the i-Tribe program to increase wireless broadband access 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), “歷年數位機會(落差)調查彙整資料 [Summary of Digital Opportunities (Data Gap) Surveys Over the Years],” accessed March 07, 2022, https://ws.ndc.gov.tw/Download.ashx?u=LzAwMS9hZG1pbmlzdHJhdG9yLzEwL2NrZ….
- 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://web.archive.org/web/20210923042744/https://money.udn.com/money/….
|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 exchange points (IXPs)—TWIX, TPIX, EBIX, and TWNAP—are all operated by telecommunications companies, although TWNAP works largely 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 proposed a plan for a submarine cable to connect the United States and Taiwan.4 In December 2021, the plan was endorsed by the US government.5
- 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
- 5David Shepardson, "U.S. recommends approving Google, Meta undersea data cable to Asia", Reuters, December 18, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-recommends-approving-google-meta-…
|Are there legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles that restrict the diversity of service providers?||5.005 6.006|
While users have a choice of service providers, certain companies dominate the market. The Telecommunications Management Act (TMA),1 which was approved in June 2019 and came into effect in July 2020, replaces the Telecommunications Act (TA) and relaxes some of its rules. There is a three-year transition period for telecommunications companies to comply with the TMA.2
Under the TMA, service providers and intermediary telecommunications operators must register with the NCC.3 Previously, under the TA, companies that “install telecommunications equipment or provide telecommunications services” required a license from the MOTC and a certain amount of capital.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 that are not particularly onerous and are often meant to protect consumers. For example, telecommunications operators must take appropriate measures to protect the confidentiality of communications, 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 market-entry requirements and the high cost of developing infrastructure, among other factors, allowed only a small number of providers to dominate the fixed-line and mobile markets.7 Five major telecommunication companies—Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, FET, APT, and T Star—occupy the majority of the fixed-line market,8 with Chunghwa Telecom controlling approximately 68 percent as of April 2020.9 Though 82 companies offered fixed-line networking as of February 2020, most were small businesses that only provide local services. Five providers—Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, FET, T Star, and APT—also provide mobile broadband service, with Chunghwa Telecom controlling 38.9 percent of the mobile broadband market as of January 2022.10
In December 2021, Taiwan Mobile and T Star agreed to pursue a merger. FET and APT announced their merger plans in February 2022.11 The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) and the NCC were reviewing the proposed mergers as of June 2022,12 with some concerns about the implications of the mergers for market competition.13
- 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….
- 3Telecommunication Management Act ,Article 13, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111 https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060111.
- 4Laws 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.
- 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…
- 10Fixed broadband see Chunghwa Telecom, “2020第一季營運報告 [2020 First Quarter Operation Report],” April 30, 2020, of ChungHwa Telecom, page 6: https://www.cht.com.tw/home/cht/-/media/Web/PDF/Investors/Shareholder-S…; Mobile broadband see Chunghwa Telecom, “2021第四季營運報告 [2021 Fourth Quarter Operation Report]." January 26, 2022, page 7, https://www.cht.com.tw/zh-TW/home/cht/-/media/Web/PDF/Investors/Shareho…
- 11Chiou Jie-Xin, ”遠傳、亞太也要併！台灣電信業確定重回三家鼎立[FET and Asian Pacific needs to be merged. Taiwan Telecommunication Industry would be dominated by three major companies again]”, Technews, https://finance.technews.tw/2022/02/25/fetnet-asia-pacific-telecom/
- 12Joseph Waring, Taiwan Mobile/T Star merger to create market leader, Mobile World Live, January 03, 2022, https://www.mobileworldlive.com/featured-content/top-three/taiwan-mobil…
- 13Wang Li-Da, “行動通訊兩大併兩小 值得不同對待 [Two Big Mobile Communication Companies Merged Two Small Companies: They Deserved Different Treatment]”, ChinaTimes, https://www.chinatimes.com/opinion/20220510005172-262110?chdtv
|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 NCC is an independent government body responsible for regulating telecommunications and broadcasting services, including overseeing the telecommunications industry, managing domain names and internet protocol (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
In November 2020, the NCC rejected an application from the pro-Beijing television channel Chung T’ien Television News (CTiTV) for its television license renewal after the NCC had repeatedly fined and issued warnings to the channel for violating regulations. CTiTV subsequently lost its ability to broadcast on television in Taiwan, although its online operations 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 FTC oversees competition law as it relates to telecommunications or digital services. FTC and NCC decisions 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 (DCS) oversees issues related to security of critical infrastructure (see C8). In August 2022, after the coverage period, the government inaugurated the new Ministry of Digital Affairs, which will be led by former minister without portfolio Audrey Tang, to oversee policy areas including digital infrastructure, telecommunications, and internet development.8
The nature of online information dictates which agency is tasked with particular content regulation (see B2 and B3).9 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.
- 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….
- 8Su Ssi-yun, Lai Yu-chen and Shih Hsiu-chuan, “President Tsai inaugurates new Ministry of Digital Affairs,” Focus Taiwan, August 27, 2022, https://focustaiwan.tw/business/202208270011.
- 9Asia 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…
|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?||5.005 6.006|
Score Change: The score declined from 6 to 5 because authorities mistakenly blocked a cryptocurrency exchange and news platform.
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 previous coverage period.1 In August 2020, the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced that Taiwanese companies could not provide video streaming-related services originating with Chinese companies or people, particularly iQIYI or Tencent, beginning that September. 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 serve as agents or distributors of any Chinese OTT services via television or other broadcast methods, including the digital-television channel service Media on Demand.2
CoinMarketCap, a cryptocurrency exchange and news platform, was found to be blocked by telecommunication companies in September and October 2021. The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) disclosed the website was mistakenly blocked in a fraud investigation.3 The CIB likely blocked the site under Article 8 of the TMA, which some commentators said was an overbroad interpretation of the law.4
The Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) reported in 2018 that the Taipei city government filtered certain content on its free Wi-Fi services provided to public spaces.5 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 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 and November 2020.6 The TAHR found that NGA-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.7
- 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….
- 3Legislative Yuan, "立法院公報第110卷第99期 [The Legislative Yuan Gazette, Volumn 110, Issue 99 ]". page 107-108, 116. https://lci.ly.gov.tw/LyLCEW/communique1/final/pdf/110/99/LCIDC01_11099…
- 4Liu Ming-geng, "台灣網路長城2／擋不住詐騙案攀升只能鎖網站 律師：業者可不照辦 [Taiwan's Internet Great Wall 2 / Only can block the website for being unable to stop the rise of fraud cases. Lawyer: The industry don't have to follow.]" CTWANT, November 21, 2021, https://www.ctwant.com/article/151686
- 5Ho 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
- 6The 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…
- 7“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 The 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 content that infringes on copyright.2
The judiciary has addressed cases that include requests to remove content in recent years. In January 2022, a court ordered a city councilor to remove a YouTube video that spread false information about another legislator.3 In September 2021, a court ordered Liang Mu-yang, a newspaper journalist and former legislator, to remove Facebook posts and 49 YouTube videos about a county magistrate with whom Liang was in dispute, after the magistrate filed a civil claim over Liang’s posting of purportedly false and biased information.4
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 receiving 3,912 complaints in 2021, including 1,855 cases related to pornography, 359 cases related to articles considered harmful to children and youth, 337 cases related to other content considered harmful to the physical and mental health of children and youth, 320 cyberbullying cases, 334 cases related to private photographs of children and youth, and 328 cases related to false information. iWin reported 1,506 of the complaints to companies and deny-listed 741 pieces of content through filtering software.7 It is unclear what percentage of complaints and reports to companies led to content being removed.
Google reported removing one item pursuant to a Taiwanese government request during the period from July to December 2021, after receiving a total of six requests.8 Facebook restricted over 4,900 items in Taiwan during the same period, compared to 716 items in the first half of 2021 and less than 10 items in all previous six-month periods. Facebook disclosed that most of the requests came from the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection, the Council of Agriculture, the National Immigration Agency, and the Department of Interior, but did not explain the reason for the removals.9
Technology platforms have also restricted content for reasons other than government requests. A Citizen Lab report released in August 2021 found that keyword filtering attached to Apple’s product engraving service limited 338 keywords.10 Restrictions included “social content” keywords such as those deemed sexually explicit, references to illicit goods and services, and vulgarity, but also included 29 “political content” keywords, including names of high-ranking members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Mao Zedong, and the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
DPP parliamentarian Wang Dingyu alleged in October 2021 that Facebook moderates Taiwanese content in line with CCP standards, citing concerns about the removal of content criticizing China and ordering the National Security Bureau (NSB) to confirm with Facebook.11 Facebook denied the allegations.12
- 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, “臺灣桃園地方法院 110 年訴字第 628 號民事判決 [Taoyuan District Court of Taiwan 2020 Civil Judgement No. 628],” January 19, 2022, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TYDV,110%2c%e8%a8%b…
- 4Judicial Yuan, Laws and Regulations Retrieving System, “臺灣屏東地方法院 109 年重訴字第 74 號民事判決 [Pingtong District Court of Taiwan 2020 Civil Judgement No. 74],” August 31, 2021, https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=PTDV,109%2c%e9%87%8…; Liu Xingjun, “不滿名譽受損潘孟安提告 法院判前立委梁牧養賠180萬,”United Daily News, September 10, 2021, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/5737477.
- 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」110 年度申訴案件統計報表 [‘iWIN Internet Content Protection Agency’ 2021 Annual Complaint Case Statistics Report],” 2021, https://i.win.org.tw/upload/data/110_%E5%B9%B4%E5%A0%B1_%E5%AE%98%E7%B6…
- 8Google, “Transparency Report - Taiwan - Government Requests to Remove Content,” accessed March 12, 2022, https://transparencyreport.google.com/government-removals/government-re…. Chinese version available here: https://transparencyreport.google.com/government-removals/government-re….
- 9Facebook Transparency Center, "Content Restrictions Based on Local Law – Taiwan,” accessed March 12, 2022, https://transparency.fb.com/data/content-restrictions/country/TW.
- 10Jeffrey 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…
- 11Chen Hongzhi, “ Facebook censorship follows Chinese standards? Taiwan's National Security Agency will communicate, Yahoo! Taiwan, October 19, 2021, https://tw.news.yahoo.com/%E8%87%89%E6%9B%B8%E8%A8%80%E8%AB%96%E5%AF%A9….
- 12Wu Chia-hao, "台灣基進質疑中國主導言論審查 臉書：管理標準一致[Taiwan Statebuilding Party questions that China's dominant speech censorship. Facebook: management standards are consistent]", Central News Agency, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/aipl/202109230419.aspx
|Do restrictions on the internet and digital content lack transparency, proportionality to the stated aims, or an independent appeals process?||4.004 4.004|
Technical censorship is not routine in Taiwan. 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 No regulation mandates that the government disclose related content-restriction requests.
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 remained under litigation during the coverage period. 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 PDPA, that Google remove content claiming that he engaged in illegal betting and fraud (see C6).5 The court 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 The case is still pending as of June 2022.
Several new bills that relate to online content were raised during the coverage period. In March 2022, the cabinet proposed a draft amendment to Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act that would add criminal penalties for producing or disseminating sexual images of a person without their consent. The draft seeks to address the production, leak, distribution, or manipulation of sexual images and videos. New draft amendments to the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act would require platforms to create technical systems to remove or restrict the access of illegal content immediately once the content is detected. 7 In a May 2022 statement, the Taiwan Internet Governance Forum called for content restrictions to be subject to judicial review and due process.8
In June 2022, after the coverage period, the NCC published the draft Digital Intermediary Services Act (DISA), with a two-month public-comment period that was later extended after the draft was criticized.9 The DISA would impose varying degrees of obligations on digital communications platforms, including mandates that online platforms release transparency reports and online advertising disclosures and provide strong notice-and-appeal mechanisms relating to content removal. It would also require service providers to label contents mandated by administrative agencies, and comply with court orders to remove, restrict the spread of contents.10 The DISA was previously known as the Digital Communications and Broadcasting Act, a version of which was published in January 2017 but failed to pass.11
In May 2022, the NCC released a new framework for the draft Internet Audiovisual Service Management Act (IASMA), which was introduced in July 2020 to regulate OTT platforms.12 The bill’s introduction was thought to be influenced by concerns that Chinese OTT services, such as iQIYI, were operating in the country without NCC approval as per Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. The framework would introduce size-oriented obligations for OTT platforms, including around content removal and government requests for information.13 An updated IASMA draft that reflects the May 2022 framework was not released as of the end of the coverage period.
- 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…
- 7Lai Yu-chen and Evelyn Kao, "Cabinet approves draft amendments to curb AI-powered deepfakes", Focus Taiwan, March 11, 2022, https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202203110001
- 8Taiwan Internet Governance Forum, “TWIGF 對於網路中介機構協助執法責任之相關修法意見[TWIGF’s Opinion on the Amendment of Internet Intermediaries to Assist Law Enforcement]”, https://www.igf.org.tw/?p=7882
- 9Shelley Shan, “Controversial digital law open for changes: NCC,” Taipei Times, August 22, 2022, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2022/08/22/2003783934.
- 10“The NCC announced a bill of the Digital Intermediary Service Act for Public Consultation,” Lee and Li Attorneys-At-Law, July 8, 2022, https://www.leeandli.com/EN/NewslettersDetail/6903.htm; Jiselle Ong, “Is the Draft Digital Intermediary Services Act in Taiwan Likely to Limit the People’s Freedom of Speech?,” August 31, 2022, Lexology, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=4b1e7899-1a08-42eb-83a1-….
- 11National 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.
- 12Grace Shao and Jo-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….
- 13National Communication Commission, “NCC通過「網際網路視聽服務法」草案架構，完整草案條文將於近期公布[NCC pass the draft framework of Internet Audiovisual Service Management Act: The Complete Bill would be Published Recently]”,https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=8&cate=…; “National Communications Commission announces the framework for the draft "Internet Audio-visual Service Management Act," Lee and Li Attorneys-At-Law, May 30, 2022, https://www.leeandli.com/EN/NewslettersDetail/6888.htm.
|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 (SOMA) 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 Lee was released and returned to Taiwan in April 2022.2
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 made outside China.3 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.4
Concerns about Chinese technology may also drive self-censorship. In January 2022, the NCC reported that some mobile phones produced by Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi monitor content for certain keywords, can potentially block or filter that content, and could transmit users’ online activity “to servers in Beijing.”5
- 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…
- 2Li Ya-Wen, “堅不認莫須有間諜罪 李明哲：不接受打壓台灣國格[Refuse to be the espionage: Li Ming-zhe: I do not accept the Suppression of Taiwan's National Dignity]”, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202205100220.aspx
- 3Chen 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.
- 4“'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…
- 5The Department of Cyber Security of Executive Yuan, “資通安全網路月報(111年1月) [The monthly online report of cyber security (January 2022)]”, 2022, https://nicst.ey.gov.tw/Page/8770AD7511CB8DC9/1b524f1b-f71e-4b5d-b2a1-d…
|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).
The think tank Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) identified Taiwan as one of the two liberal democracies most targeted by the spread of false information by foreign governments in a 2019 report.2 Popular topics have included reunification between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, flaws in Taiwanese democracy, information discrediting the government’s response to COVID-19, and content aimed at smearing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates, particularly during elections.3
In January 2022, the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau reported on the existence of inauthentic accounts on Facebook and Taiwanese platform PTT and CK101 that distributed false information and content that originated from Chinese content farms.4
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 CCP, military agencies, private companies, and ordinary users. The tactics include financial incentives for Taiwanese outlets to broadcast pro-China narratives, the use of content farms that disseminate 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.5 Another group, the US-based cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, reported in 2020 that provincial authorities in China recruited prounification influencers in Taiwan with salaries ranging from $740 to $1,460 per month.6 China-based Taiwanese vloggers are increasingly active in spreading pro-CCP commentary on social media.7
Reports have also alleged that Taiwanese news outlets have received direction or payment from Beijing. An investigation published in April 2022 by Doublethink Lab showed that Taiwan’s media environment is ranked as the most influenced environment by China among the 36 countries it studied.8 Reuters reported in August 2019 that Chinese mainland authorities paid at least five media groups in Taiwan for coverage.9 According to the agency, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office paid 30,000 reminbi ($4,700) for two favorable stories about Beijing’s attempts to attract Taiwanese businesspeople to China, which were placed in outlets Reuters did not disclose. The NSB alleged in May 2019 that the Chinese government was involved in reviewing editorial content for certain Taiwanese news outlets but declined to say which.10
A joint investigation from Doublethink Lab and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute released in August 2021 analyzed content-farm websites that target Taiwanese audiences.11 Content on one site, Qiqis.org, was found to demonstrate high bias toward Beijing’s preferred narratives, running critical stories about the US government generally and the January 6, 2021, Capitol building attack in particular.
Taiwan’s leading political parties—the DPP, Kuomintang (KMT), and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP)—have each claimed that their opponents have hired or deployed commentators to spread manipulated information online.12 In June 2022, after the coverage period, Ko Wen-je, Taipei City mayor and the TPP’s chairperson, was criticized for coordinating online commentators after civil servants were discovered posting anti-DPP content from government IP addresses during working hours.13 Ko denied the allegation.14
Interviewees who featured in a 2017 University of Oxford working paper claimed that individuals were paid by election campaigns and political parties to spread messages online. However, they did not clarify whether the content was false or particularly misleading.15
- 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….
- 4Investigation Bureau of Ministry of Justice, "境外敵對勢力認知作戰升級 國人宜謹慎識別網路假訊息 [Overseas hostile forces upgrade the cognitive warfare, nationals should be careful to identify false information on the Internet]", https://www.mjib.gov.tw/news/Details/1/756#
- 5Lilly 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
- 6Jude 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….;
- 7Lin Pu, Ping-yu Lin, Andrew Devine, and Po-hung Chen, “China’s Latest Disinformation Campaign Against Taiwan Backfires Amid the Russia-Ukraine War”, March 06 ,2022, https://thediplomat.com/2022/03/chinas-latest-disinformation-campaign-a…
- 8Doublethink Lab, “China Index”, https://china-index.io/domain/media
- 9Yimou 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…
- 10“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-…
- 11Albert 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
- 12Wu 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/
- 13Liu Jian-Bang,"議員揭網軍IP在北市府 資訊局查出帳號為員工[The City Councilor revealed that the IP of the Internet Army was identified as an employee by the Information Bureau of the Taipei City Government]", CNA, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/aloc/202206030002.aspx
- 14Pan Cai-Xian, “議員追問有無花錢養網軍 柯文哲：若有一定是民進黨幫我的[The City Councilor asked if there was any Fund to Support Internet Army: Ko Wen-Che: If There Is, It Must be the DPP to Help Me. ]”, UDN News, https://udn.com/news/story/6656/6367981
- 15Nicholas 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 TMA 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 CCP advertisements.2
The draft IASMA would require OTT services of a particular size, revenue, traffic, or market influence to register, or face fines ranging from NT$100,000 to NT$1 million ($3,600 to $36,100) (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 serve illegal Chinese OTT services 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 contributes to this diversity. According to a 2020 survey conducted for the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford, 83 percent of the population consumed news online and 59 percent via social media; only 21 percent read print news, down from 41 percent in 2017.1
However, the media environment suffers from political polarization and sensationalist content.2 Only 24 percent of people surveyed for the Reuters Institute’s 2020 report considered the news reliable, with only 16 percent trusting news on social media.3 A study from the Taiwan Media Watch Foundation also found that people in Taiwan view the media environment as less credible and less reliable in 2019 than they did in 2014.4
Misinformation online and across Line, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the popular PTT online bulletin board can undermine people’s ability to access reliable information (see B5).5 For instance, misinformation about coronavirus vaccines spread after a surge of cases in May 2021, such as that vaccines could cause death in elderly people.6 A study of COVID-19 misinformation on Taiwanese digital media found a spike in reports in June 2021, as the pandemic intensified in Taiwan and the government launched a vaccination campaign.7
The government, technology industry, and civil society have designed innovative tools to counteract the impact of false and misleading information in Taiwan (see B5).8 For example, Digital Minister Audrey Tang announced in 2019 that each government department had employed “meme engineers” to respond quickly to disinformation efforts. Additionally, Line users can report information for fact-checking to Cofacts, a bot created by the decentralized “gov-zero” community,9 and can receive information about its validity. Organizations like Doublethink Lab have also conducted innovative research to uncover and analyze disinformation campaigns and their impact.10
- 1Reuters Institute & University of Oxford, “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020”, Page 102, June 06, 2020, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-06/…
- 2Reporters without Borders, Taiwan, accessed August 1, 2021, https://rsf.org/en/taiwan
- 3Reuters Institute & University of Oxford, “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020”, Page 102, June 06, 2020, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-06/…
- 4Xu 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….
- 5Taiwan 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
- 6Kathrin Hille, “Taiwan’s unity cracks under Chinese disinformation onslaught,” Financial Times, June 29, 2021 https://www.ft.com/content/f22f1011-0630-462a-a21e-83bae4523da7
- 7Yen-Pin Chen et al., “The Prevalence and Impact of Fake News on COVID-19 Vaccination in Taiwan: Retrospective Study of Digital Media,” J Med Internet Res., Vol. 24, No. 4, April 2022, https://www.jmir.org/2022/4/e36830/
- 8Central 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….
- 9LINE 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.
- 10Doublethink 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.
The Platform for Online Participation in Public Policy, maintained by the NDC, offers an official way for the general public to propose, engage, monitor, and reply to public policies online.1 Though users report a high degree of satisfaction with the platform,2 the TPP has criticized its low acceptance ratio. Only 0.43 percent of proposals were accepted, according to an NDC report.3
Current events tend to prompt considerable debate on social media. After Russian forces launched their invasion of Ukraine in February 2021, Taiwanese internet users mobilized on social media to support Ukraine.4 A February 2021 referendum on the protection of algae reefs attracted thousands of shares and influenced public opinion on the issue.5
- 1See “Platform for Online Participation in Public Policy,.” at https://join.gov.tw/.
- 2National Development Council, “109 年公共政策網路參與平臺公民參與情形調查報告[109 Years Platform for Public Policy Network Participation and Citizen participation survey report]” page 3, October 2020, https://ws.ndc.gov.tw/Download.ashx?u=LzAwMS9hZG1pbmlzdHJhdG9yLzEwL2NrZ…
- 3Lin Yu-chen, “國發會公民參與平台成效差 最後成案率 0.43% [The effectiveness of the National Development Council Citizen Participation Platform is poor, and the final case completion rate is only 0.43%]”https://tw.news.yahoo.com/%E6%91%B8%E9%A0%AD%E5%B9%B3%E5%8F%B01-%E5%9C%…
- 4See, e.g., “Taiwan Stands with Ukraine,” Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/twstandswithukraine.
- 5Wu 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 constitutionally protected.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 relatively independent and protected by the Judges Act.4 The judicial system 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 the constitution’s free-speech protections (see C2).5
- 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
- 4Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Judges Act”, June, 2020, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030243; Policy Research Indicators Database, “我們的司法獨立了嗎[Is our judiciary independent?]”, October 31, 2019, https://pride.stpi.narl.org.tw/index/graph-world/detail/4b1141ad6dec9a8….
- 5Constitutional 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’ detention or a fine of NT$9,000 ($324) for publicly insulting another person. Article 140 outlines liability of up to one year in prison or a fine of up to NT$100,000 ($3,600) if an individual “offers an insult to a public official during the legal discharge of his duties.” In December 2021, the parliament amended Article 140 to remove a clause criminalizing “insult to a public office” and raise the punishment for the remaining provision.1 Some legislators have argued that Article 140 violates free-expression protections and called for amending the criminal code.2
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.3 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, is related to public concern, and is a “fair comment on a fact subject to public criticism.” Prominent politicians and prosecutors have criticized the criminal insult and defamation provisions as conflicting with the constitution.4
Several laws impose liability for disseminating false or misleading information. Under the 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 ($1,080).5 The law has been used to investigate online activities (see C3).
In September 2021, the Constitutional Court stated that Article 38 of the SOMA was unconstitutional. That article allowed law enforcement units to simultaneously seek administrative fines and criminal penalties for a single case. After the ruling, law enforcement departments may only charge a person accused of crimes with an administrative fine or a criminal penalty, including in cases that relate to online expression.6
Article 14 of the Special Act for Prevention, Relief, and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens, which has been in force since January 2020, imposes 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.7 Similarly, Article 63 of the Communicable Disease Control Act, promulgated in June 2019, outlines a fine of no more than NT$3 million (US$108,000) for spreading rumors or false information about an epidemic that causes substantial harm to the public or others.8
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 damaging the public by disseminating rumors or fraudulent content in order to elect or not elect a candidate, or for a political proposal.9 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.10 After the passage of the act, pro-Beijing online media outlet Master Chain announced that it was ending operations in Taiwan.11
Under the Disaster Prevention and Rescue Law, anyone who knowingly reports false information about a disaster faces fines of NT$300,000 to NT$500,000 (US$10,800 to US$18,000).12 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.13
- 1Wang Yang-yu, “立院三讀 刪除侮辱公署罪加重侮辱公務員罰則 [The Legislative Yuan eventually delete the penalty of insulting offices, and aggravates the punishment for insulting civil servants]”, December 28, 2021, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/aipl/202112280163.aspx
- 2“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
- 3Laws 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.
- 4Apple Daily, “陳師孟：《刑法》公然侮辱不符比例原則 有違憲疑義 [Chen Shi-meng: The Criminal Law's blatant insult is not comply with the principle of proportionality and therefore may be regarded as unconstitutional]”, September 20, 2019,https://tw.appledaily.com/politics/20190920/G23U7GBRHAEJUBE7EKCEUH6HY4/; Huang Yu-zhe, “Taiwan needs to decriminalize libel,” Taipei Times, January 26, 2022, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2022/01/26/2003772….
- 5Laws 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.
- 6Chen Honming, “刑罰併處社會秩序維護法罰鍰之研析,”Legislative Yuan, November 2021, https://www.ly.gov.tw/Pages/Detail.aspx?nodeid=6590&pid=214905 ; Wang Hong-shun, “社維法「罰鍰」兼移送刑事違憲 [The Social Order Maintenance Act penalty and transfer to criminal trials is unconditional ]”, United Daily news, September 2021, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/5737905
- 7Laws 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
- 8Laws 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
- 9Laws 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
- 10Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Anti-Infiltration Act,” https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030317
- 11Huang Tzu-ti, “Pro-China Master Chain quits Taiwan,” Taiwan News, January 1, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3848481
- 12Laws 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.
- 13Laws 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 the SOMA have increased in recent years, with 151 in 2019 and 320 in 2020.1 The majority of SOMA cases do not lead to convictions2 —243 of the 320 cases reported in 2020 resulted in no penalty, for instance.3
Several SOMA cases from the coverage period resulted in fines, particularly relating to COVID-19 misinformation. In March 2022, a user was fined NT$3,000 ($108) for sharing false information in a Facebook group claiming that people returning to Taiwan can avoid quarantine by following specific steps.4 In September 2021, internet celebrity Sun-Sheng was fined NT$8,000 ($290) over a May 2021 Instagram post that incorrectly claimed that a pandemic-related lockdown had been implemented.5 In December 2021, an Instagram user was fined NT$3,000 ($108) for expressing fears that a COVID-19 outbreak in Fangshan Township would prompt a lockdown in June 2021, which a court deemed to be false information.6 Also in July 2021, another user was fined NT$3,000 ($108) after he posted on Facebook claiming that President Tsai Ing-wen could earn private interest through approving a specific vaccine.7
Most investigations under the SOMA were dismissed by the judiciary. In September 2021, retired police officer Li Chin-ruey, also known as Police Dove, was charged under the SOMA for posting that he was professionally punished for a “bad attitude” over comments regarding the son of former prime minister Frank Hsieh Chang-ting. In January 2022, the court ruled that Li did not violate the law because his comments did not clearly affect public order.8
In February 2022, a court found Yang Hui-ru and Cai Fu-ming guilty of insulting a public official under Article 40 of the criminal code and sentenced both to five months’ imprisonment, along with a fine. Yang was also charged under the SOMA, though the court found her not guilty on those charges.9 Yang and Cai were charged in relation to claims that they incited cybertroops to spread rumors that allegedly contributed to a diplomat’s death by suicide in 2018 and for insulting public officials.10
Internet users were 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 fined and issued a suspended sentence in October 2021 for claiming that coronavirus cases were higher than officially reported in a Facebook post.11 Two others received suspended sentences in May 2022 for managing social media groups that spread COVID-19-related misinformation, which Taiwanese authorities attributed to training from mainland Chinese officials.12
- 1Pan Wei-ting, “謠言罪暴增28倍》「執政者覺得好用」 李念祖：用「謠言」處罰一定不會合憲 [Rumor crimes have soared 28 times" The rulers feel good to use. Li Nianzu: The punishment of using rumors will certainly not be constitutional]”, The Storm Media, March 26, 2021, https://www.storm.mg/article/3561804
- 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.
- 3Pan Wei-ting, “謠言罪暴增28倍》「執政者覺得好用」 李念祖：用「謠言」處罰一定不會合憲 [Rumor crimes have soared 28 times" The rulers feel good to use. Li Nianzu: The punishment of using rumors will certainly not be constitutional]”, The Storm Media, March 26, 2021, https://www.storm.mg/article/3561804
- 5Hsiao Ya-juan, “網紅孫生IG寫「真的封城」散佈謠言 法院開鍘了 [Internet celebrity Sun Sheng IG wrote "really lockdown" to spread rumors. The court punished him.]”, United Daily news, September 30, 2021, https://udn.com/news/story/7320/5783616
- 6Hong Ming-sheng, ”網友發文「屏東快四級了」 散布謠言罰三千元, [A netizen spread "Pingtung is almost level four" rumors and was fined NT$3,000], FTV news, December 23, 2021, https://tw.news.yahoo.com/%E7%B6%B2%E5%8F%8B%E7%99%BC%E6%96%87-%E5%B1%8… https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=SSEM,110%2c%e6%96%b…
- 7Wang Ding-chuan and Chian Li-Jung, “造謠「蔡英文家族炒股」 男罰鍰3000元 [A man who spread the rumor that Tsai Ing-wen family speculated in stocks was fined NT$3,000]”, Liberty Times Net, July 16, 2021, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/paper/1460972
- 8Li Yu-jin, “「條子鴿」影射攔查謝長廷兒遭懲處 法院：未釀恐慌不罰 [Police Dove imply that the police was punished owing to inspect the son of Hsieh Chang-ting. The court: no punishment, as no panic was created.]” , TVBS, January 5, 2022, https://news.tvbs.com.tw/local/1682453
- 9Yang Kuo-wen, “「卡神」楊蕙如帶風向辱大阪辦事處 判5月定讞 [Slow Yang was sentenced for 5 months for leading the public to insult the Osaka Office.], Liberty Times Net, February 24, 2022, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/breakingnews/3840247
- 10Weng 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
- 12Brian Hioe, “Concerns on the Rise over Taiwanese Trained by China to Spread Disinformation,” New Bloom, May 16, 2022, https://newbloommag.net/2022/05/16/tw-china-train-disinformation/.
|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 numbers, 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 draft of 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 The draft remains pending as of the end of the coverage period.
- 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|
The Taiwanese 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 PDPA 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 CSSA stipulates that a court-approved “interception warrant” 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, prosecutors do 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 a report from the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice, there were almost 51,000 communications surveillance cases, and over 100,000 communication-record retrieval cases in 2021.9 More than 96 percent of cases did not require court approval. 10 In its 2018 Internet Transparency Report, the TAHR reported that the lack of judicial review over requests has been increasingly normalized.11
The CSSA empowers the 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.12 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 nontelecommunication personal data with a court-approved search warrant or by receiving voluntary consent of the person being searched.13
The draft Technology Investigation Act, introduced in September 2020, would increase authorities’ ability to monitor communications.14 For example, prosecutors could use GPS or other location-tracking tools for a two-month period of investigation without a warrant.15 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 Ministry of Justice cited new forms of digital crimes, particularly those coordinated on messaging apps, as necessitating the new powers.16 Civil society and other stakeholders criticized the draft’s provisions as permitting major violations to the right to privacy, and other human rights.17 It remained pending at the end of the coverage period.
Law enforcement have access to and deploy “M-Car” devices, which are car-mounted base stations that can intercept a target’s mobile phone signal to detect their location. After obtaining 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 signal strengths to accurately locate users. There are currently no clear rules for the use of M-Car devices. However, a court in February 2021 held that their use is legal.18 In January 2022, the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office (THPO) disclosed that five law enforcement units, including the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau and the National Police Agency, are equipped with M-Cars, and THPO is planning to establish a M-Car team for future investigations.19
It is unclear whether the government has access to spyware technology, although some reports suggest that it does. In a 2015 report, Citizen Lab called the Taiwanese government or law enforcement “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 systems.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, “110年法院辦理通訊監察業務概述 [Overview of communication surveillance business handled by Court in 2021]”, ; https://www.rjsd.moj.gov.tw/rjsdweb/common/WebList3_Report.aspx?list_id…
- 10Ministry of Justice, "110年度調取票聲請案件檢察署及法院核發情形統計－按聲請人類別分 [Statistics on the issuance of communication records access warrant for application to the Prosecutor's Office and the court in 2021 - Distinguished by Claimant]" https://www.rjsd.moj.gov.tw/rjsdweb/common/WebList3_Report.aspx?list_id…
- 11Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), “2020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report,” page 41: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 12Laws 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.
- 13Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 128, 128-1, 131-1: https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=C0010001
- 14Ministry 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.
- 15“Data Protection & Privacy 2021,” Chambers and Partners, March 9, 2021, https://practiceguides.chambers.com/practice-guides/data-protection-pri…
- 16Jason 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.
- 17Zhou 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
- 18Judicial 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….
- 19Huang Li-Wei, “檢察機關導入 M 化偵查網路行動電話定位系統之介紹與評估 [ The introduction and evaluation about the M-based equipments to investigate the positioning system of mobile phone]”, Taiwan High Prosecutors Office e-paper, page 7, January, 2021, https://www.tph.moj.gov.tw/media/271427/111%E5%B9%B41%E6%9C%88%E9%9B%BB…
- 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 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 data, and social activities. The PDPA also regulates the cross-border transfer of data1 and stipulates that individuals can apply for judicial 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 NDC has maintained a dedicated PDPA oversight office.2 In 2019, the government solicited public comment to determine whether the PDPA should be amended to fully comply with principles in the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.3
The government has enforced the PDPA to protect privacy. In December 2021, the Ministry of Culture ordered Apple Daily—an online outlet affiliated with the Hong Kong–based Apple Daily newspaper until the latter company’s assets were frozen under Hong Kong’s National Security Law—should not transfer personal data to Hong Kong authorities. The ministry cited concerns that the Chinese government would exploit the information and urged the Taiwanese outlet to delete customers’ personal data.4
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).5
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.6 For example, the Ministry of Economic Affairs received information in all of the 1,112 personal data requests it filed between 2017 and 2018, the most recent data available; 112 of the requests were to government agencies, with 1,000 to nongovernment agencies, including Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, and Yahoo! Taiwan Holdings Limited.7 Between 2015 and 2016, the Ministry of Finance submitted 350 requests with a 99.4 percent success rate. The CIB also reportedly issued 565 requests to Facebook through this process, with a 52.9 percent success rate, between 2015 and 2016.8
Several laws mandate different data-retention requirements.9 Telecommunications providers are required to store communication records, subscriber information, and billing details for at least a year.10
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.11 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.12 The act states that personal information collected for pandemic response 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.13
The Electronic Fence System uses mobile location tracking data to ensure individuals remain in quarantine.14 It remained active during the coverage period, though its measures were reportedly loosened in May 2022.15 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 April 2022, the government suspended the mandatory implementation of the 1922 SMS contact-tracing system,16 which was introduced in May 2021 and used QR codes to track when users enter or leave locations including stores, government buildings, and public transportation.17 Mobile service providers helped facilitate tracking: when an individual tested positive for COVID-19, a contact tracer provided their phone number to the provider, which analyzed location data to determine who was in proximity of that individual. As of May 2022, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control reported it had retrieved more than 42 million records and deleted almost 4.8 billion records.18
The data is purportedly only supposed to be used for epidemiological investigations.19 However, in June 2021, a Taichung District Court judge alleged that the service was used to locate an accused individual in a criminal investigation.20 The NCC responded by again stating that the service is only used for epidemiological purposes.21
Additionally, in February 2020, a coronavirus outbreak on the cruise ship Diamond Princess prompted the government to obtain mobile-phone location information of over 600,000 people from telecommunications companies for contact tracing.22
- 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;
- 4Ministry of Culture, “香港國安法迫害蘋果日報 文化部函令限制「不得跨境資料傳輸」[The Hong Kong’s National Security Act persecute the Apple Daily. MoC issued a decision that no cross-border transmission is permitted]. ”https://www.moc.gov.tw/information_250_141982.html
- 5Laws 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.
- 62020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 72020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 82018 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, http://transparency.tahr.org.tw/TITR_Report_2018_en.pdf
- 9Laws & 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
- 10Laws 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.
- 11Covid-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
- 12Laws 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.
- 13“Regulating Electronic Means to Fight the Spread of COVID-19,” Library of Congress, accessed August 25, 2021, https://perma.cc/GRY3-VQPJ#_ftnref18
- 14“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…
- 15Matthew Strong, “Taiwan loosens COVID digital fence, restrictions on close contacts,” Taiwan News, May 7, 2022, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4530741.
- 16“簡訊實聯制即日起取消 5/31前防疫重點措施一次看,” CNA, April 27, 2022, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/ahel/202204275007.aspx.
- 17“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-…
- 18SMS contact-tracing - The service for general public to search the requested information, https://web.archive.org/web/20220525220635/https://sms.1922.gov.tw/.
- 19Audrey Tang, “1922 SMS: Easy and secure contact tracing,” Commonwealth, May 20, 2021, https://english.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=2986
- 20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
- 21Shelley Shan, “COVID-19: SMS system not used by police,” Taipei Times, June 22, 2021, https://taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/06/22/2003759599
- 22Chi-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 pursuit of someone following criticism or their involvement in controversial events, and often include doxing. In early April 2021, following a fatal train derailment, 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. Another woman was incorrectly alleged to have contracted the virus from the pilot.2 In September 2021, after a cluster of COVID-19 infections originated from a kindergarten, internet users exposed the personal information and addresses of teachers and parents.3
Although not routine, users have faced physical threats in relation to online activities during previous coverage periods. In February 2022, a PTT influencer known as 4xCat was threatened by a municipal candidate over Facebook posts criticizing him.4
In November 2021, the Legislative Yuan passed the Anti-Stalking Act, which seeks to prevent harassment and stalking, including online harassment.5 The law took effect in June 2022, after the coverage period.6
- 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.
- 3Chen Chang-yuan, “【看得見的恐懼2】新北幼兒園發生群聚感染 家長老師都遭肉搜 [Visible fear 2: A kindergarten in New Taipei City outbreak of cluster infection. Parents and teachers are cyber-manhunted.]”, The Mirror Media, February 28, 2022, https://www.mirrormedia.mg/story/20220221pol003/
- 4Chen Chien-Chi, “擺「靈堂」嗆四叉貓 民眾黨江和樹道歉了[TPP Jiang He-shu apologizes for choking the 4xCat by Setting the "mourning hall"]”, Liberty Times Net, ,https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/3833312
- 5Executive 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….
- 6Lin Yu-hsuan, Wang Cheng-chung, Lai Yu-chen and Elizabeth Hsu, “New anti-stalking bill clears Taiwan's Legislature”, Focus Taiwan, November 19, 2021, https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202111190022
|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.
In June 2021, the DCS reported that government agencies were targeted with 525 cybersecurity incidents in 2020. Some 68.7 percent of the incidents from were categorized as “illegal intrusion” relating to third-party vulnerabilities, 6.7 percent were attacks against webpages, and the remainder were related to equipment problems, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and other issues.1 The DCS previously 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.2 Four Chinese government-backed hacking groups are believed to have been involved in attacks against Taiwan as of August 2020.3 In its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the US State Department noted that Chinese government actors conducted cyberattacks against Taiwanese journalists’ computers and mobile phones.4
In November 2021, the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corporation and Taiwan Futures Exchange, two of the most important financial entities in Taiwan, reported that several securities dealers and futures dealers were hacked; some customer data leaked and was used to place orders.5 The cybersecurity company assisting the investigation claimed that APT10, a China-based hacking group, was responsible.6
Data leaks are also a serious issue in Taiwan. Several data leaks occurred during the coverage period, with customer data leaked from McDonald’s,7 the catering business Wowprime,8 and the online shopping platform friDay.9
The Cyber Security Management Act oversees the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure providers. It requires that public agencies formulate cybersecurity maintenance plans and stipulates report-and-response mechanisms for security incidents.10 The Executive Yuan was responsible for establishing the DCS.11
- 1Executive Yuan, “2020 Report for the Situation of National Information and Communication Security ”, June, 2021, https://nicst.ey.gov.tw/File/41C10DF5CB54975D?A=C, p.1-9, p.1-16
- 2BBC, “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…
- 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 Practices: Taiwan,” 2020, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-prac….
- 5Taiwan Futures Exchange, “新聞稿：有關期貨商通報電子交易平台受到駭客攻擊事件相關處理措施之說明 [Press release: The explanation about handling measures for futures dealers reporting that electronic trading platform were attacked by hackers]”, November 27, 2021, https://www.taifex.com.tw/file/taifex/CHINESE/11/attach/%E6%9C%9F%E8%BC… ; Taiwan Stocks Exchage, “有關證券商通報複委託下單系統受到駭客入侵事件相關處理措施之說明[Press release: The explanation about handling measures for stocks dealers reporting that the ordering systems were attacked by hackers]” https://www.twse.com.tw/zh/news/newsDetail/ff8080817d22b9cb017d5afcf635…
- 6Chou Chun-yu, “【資安日報】2022年2月22日，臺灣金融業遭中國駭客軟體供應鏈攻擊、安卓木馬Xenomorph鎖定56間歐洲銀行的用戶而來 [[Information Security Daily] On February 22, 2022, Taiwan's financial industry supply chain was attacked by Chinese hacker software, and the Android Trojan Xenomorph targeted users of 56 European banks.], February 22, 2022, ”https://www.ithome.com.tw/news/149490
- 7Lai Chun, yu, “系統遭駭資料外洩 台灣麥當勞回應了 [The system was hacked and leaked the data, Taiwan’s Mcdonald’s replied], SETN, June 11, 2021, ”, https://www.setn.com/News.aspx?NewsID=952600
- 8Wu Liang-hsien,, “王品客戶資料疑外洩至少20人受害 最多被騙逾70萬元 [It seems like that Wowprime Co. leak personal information and cause at least 20 victims. The victims were fraud at most over 700 thousands.”], United Daily New, February 25, 2022, ”https://udn.com/news/story/7320/6123726
- 9Ma Ruey-Hsuan, “購物平台資料外洩？ friDay：已啟動應變機制 [Online shopping leak the data? friDay: we’ve activated maintenance mechanism], United Daily New, February 24, 2022, ”https://udn.com/news/story/7270/6122116
- 10Laws 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.
- 11Laws 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.
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Global Freedom Score94 100 free
Internet Freedom Score78 100 free
Freedom in the World StatusFree