Taiwan hosts one of the freest online environments in Asia, though internet freedom declined this year due to concerns about overbroad and nontransparent website blocking. The information landscape is characterized by affordable internet access, diverse content, and a lack of 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.
- Chinese commercial vessels severed the two submarine cables that connect the Matsu Islands and Taiwan in February 2023, leading to a monthslong interruption to high-speed internet for people on the island and raising national security concerns (see A1).
- In August 2022, the government inaugurated the new Ministry of Digital Affairs to govern technology policy in Taiwan (see A5).
- Law enforcement agencies sought to deploy a domain-blocking measure against thousands of websites implicated in criminal cases between November 2022 and May 2023, with limited transparency and oversight (see B1 and B3).
- False information, some of which was linked to China-based actors, spread online during the November 2022 local elections and ahead of US lawmaker Nancy Pelosi’s August 2022 visit to Taiwan (see B5).
- In June 2023, the Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of Taiwan’s defamation law (see C1).
- The Legislative Yuan established an independent personal data protection authority in May 2023, following widespread criticism over its absence and a Constitutional Court ruling instructing the government to form one (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 2023 report placed Taiwan’s internet penetration rate at 90.7 percent and counted 21.7 million internet users.1 Other data sources recorded a slightly lower percentage: The National Communication Commission (NCC) reported in 2022 that the penetration rate stood at 86.3 percent,2 and the Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC) reported that the penetration rate stood at 84.3 percent for people over the age of 18 by the end of 2022.3
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.4 According to the NCC, 6.6 million people, including more than 4.1 million fiber-optic users, were subscribed to fixed-line broadband networks in April 2023, and there were more than 30 million subscribers to mobile networks.5 According to TWNIC’s report, the penetration rate for fixed-line broadband users was 65.3 percent and the penetration rate for mobile broadband users was 81.5 percent.6 There are nearly 10,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.7
In February 2023, the two submarine cables connecting Taiwan and the Matsu Islands, a Taiwan-governed archipelago off the coast of the mainland, were severed by Chinese civilian vessels.8 The approximately 14,000 residents of the Matsu Islands lost high-speed internet until late March, when one of the cables was repaired, though Chunghwa Telecom deployed intermediate low-bandwidth internet services in the interim.9 Though an NCC investigation reportedly found no direct evidence that the incidents were deliberate, the cable cuts were widely understood as a national security risk; for example, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) accused the Chinese government of arranging the cable cuts.10 More minor cable cuts are common. According to one tally, illegal sand pumping vessels have cut the Taiwan-Matsu cables almost 30 times over the past six years.11
The government is dedicated to upgrading mobile services to 5G.12 Telecommunications companies stopped offering third-generation (3G) contracts in 2018.13 Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan’s largest telecommunications company, will stop providing 3G technical assistance for calls by 2024.14 Major service providers, such as Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, and FET, began providing 5G service in major cities and several other areas in 2020.15 The number of 5G service users reached about 7.3 million by the end of April 2023 and accounted for 19.59 prercent of all internet users, according to the NCC.16
Taiwanese internet users enjoy fast internet speeds. In January 2023, Ookla reported Taiwan’s median mobile download and upload speeds as 70.57 megabits per second (Mbps) and 13.78 Mbps, respectively. Fixed-line broadband download and upload speeds were reported at a median 129.32 Mbps and 59.35 Mbps.17
The 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.18
- 1Simon Kemp, “Digital 2023: Taiwan,” DataReportal, February 13, 2023, https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2023-taiwan.
- 2National Communication Commission, “通訊市場調查結果摘要,”2022, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/23011/5558_230118_1.pdf
- 3Taiwan Network Information Center, “2022 台灣網路報告[2022 Taiwan Internet Report]”, June 2022, https://report.twnic.tw/2022/assets/download/TWNIC_TaiwanInternetReport…. Overview of Overall Internet Usage, https://report.twnic.tw/2022/en/TrendAnalysis_internetUsage.html.
- 4Taiwan 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…., “Overview of Overall Internet Usage,” 2022, https://report.twnic.tw/2022/en/TrendAnalysis_internetUsage.html.
- 5National Communications Commission, “寬頻上網帳號數(112年)[2023 Number of Fixed-line Broadband Accounts],”April 2023, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=2035&ca….
- 6Taiwan Network Information Center, “2022 台灣網路報告[2022 Taiwan Internet Report]”, https://report.twnic.tw/2022/assets/download/TWNIC_TaiwanInternetReport….
- 7iTaiwan 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.
- 8Ming-Yen Chiang, Ssu-Yun Su and Lin Ko, “NCC confirms undersea cables linking Taiwan, Matsu cut by vessels” Focus Taiwan, February 16, 2023, https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202302160022
- 9Wen Lii, “After Chinese Vessels Cut Matsu Internet Cables, Taiwan Seeks to Improve Its Communications Resilience,” The Diplomat, April 15, 2023, https://thediplomat.com/2023/04/after-chinese-vessels-cut-matsu-interne….
- 10Jie-Yu Wu, “台馬海底電纜發生中斷不只一次 NCC揭破壞元凶 [The Taiwan-Matsu submarine cable was interrupted more than once, NCC revealed the culprit of the sabotage],” February 17, 2023, https://www.upmedia.mg/news_info.php?Type=24&SerialNo=166156; Huizhong Wu and Johnson Lai, “Taiwan suspects Chinese ships cut islands’ internet cables,” Associated Press, April 18, 2023, https://apnews.com/article/matsu-taiwan-internet-cables-cut-china-65f10…; Shelley Shan, “Lienchiang Internet to be restored by end of April,” Taipei Times, February 17, 2023, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/02/17/2003794526..
- 11Chi-Chiang Yang and Yi-An Lee, “海峽下的風暴：中國盜砂船入侵下快速消失的台灣海砂、魚群，與被毀的電纜[The storm under the strait: Taiwan's rapidly disappearing sea sand, fish schools, and destroyed cables with invasion of Chinese sand pumping vessels]”, The Reporters, April 27, 2023, https://www.twreporter.org/topics/china-dredging
- 12National 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 https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/23011/5558_230118_1.pdf
- 13National 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….
- 14Peng 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.
- 15Chunghwa 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
- 16National Communications Commission, “寬頻上網帳號數(112年)[2023 Number of Fixed-line Broadband Accounts],”June 2023 https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=2035&ca…,
- 17Taiwan’s Mobile and Fixed Broadband Internet Speeds, Speedtest, accessed June 20, 2023, https://www.speedtest.net/global-index/taiwan#mobile
- 18The 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 on mobile network access.1 The Inclusive Internet Index 2022 report noted improvements in the cost of internet access relative to income; for example, the price of a 1 gigabyte (GB) postpaid mobile phone accounted for 0.26 percent of monthly income on average in 2022, compared to 0.72 percent of monthly income in 2021.2
There are digital divides based on geography, age, and education level. A 2022 TWNIC report found lower rates of internet penetration for people over the age of 70, people living in the south of Taiwan, and people with primary school education or below, as well as lower rates of use for various online platforms.3
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. The ratios slightly improved compared to 2019.4
There is no significant gender-based digital divide. Some surveys report that men use the internet 2 to 5 percent more than women.5
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 2014.6 The government established the i-Tribe program to increase wireless broadband access for Indigenous communities.7 The program has reportedly improved people’s ability to access digital healthcare services and other information.8
- 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 2022,” Accessed June 20, 2023, https://impact.economist.com/projects/inclusive-internet-index/2022/cou…. The Economist, “The Inclusive Internet Index 2021”, Access June 20, 2023, https://impact.economist.com/projects/inclusive-internet-index/2021/cou…
- 3Taiwan Network Information Center, “數位落差分析” June 21, 2022,https://report.twnic.tw/2022/TrendAnalysis_DigitalDivideAnalysis.html
- 4National 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….
- 5Taiwan Network Information Center (TWNIC), “ 2020 台灣網路報告 [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.
- 6National 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]," see page 7, October 2020, https://ws.ndc.gov.tw/Download.ashx?u=LzAwMS9hZG1pbmlzdHJhdG9yLzEwL2NrZ….
- 7“Taiwan providing free Wi-Fi in indigenous communities,” Executive Yuan, December 23, 2015, https://english.ey.gov.tw/Page/61BF20C3E89B856/e8320767-808b-4ba4-96a9-…
- 8Gu 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. However, the infrastructure bears the risks of damage or interference (see A1).
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 March 2023, the Financial Times also reported that a submarine cable project connecting Taiwan with Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong had been delayed for over a year due to objections from the Chinese government.4
- 1National Communications Commission, “網際網路交換中心(Internet Exchange IX) 統計資訊 [Internet Exchange IX Statistics],” Accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news.aspx?site_content_sn=3898. “網際網路交換中心(Internet Exchange IX) 統計資訊,” National Communications Commission, accessed August 12, 2021, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news.aspx?site_content_sn=3898
- 2TeleGeography, “Submarine Cable Map,” Last updated June 21, 2021, https://www.submarinecablemap.com/#/country/taiwan.
- 3Chunghwa Telecom, “主要股東 [Major Shareholders],” Accessed June 23, 2021, https://www.cht.com.tw/zh-tw/home/cht/about-cht/corporate-governance/ma…. Securities and Exchange Commission, “CHT: Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd.,” Updated March 17, 2020, https://sec.report/Ticker/CHT.
- 4Financial Times, “China exerts control over internet cable projects in South China Sea” March 13, 2023, https://www.ft.com/content/89bc954d-64ed-4d80-bb8f-9f1852ec4eb1
|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, replaced the Telecommunications Act (TA) and relaxed 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 66.7 percent as of December 2022.9 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 36.7 percent of the mobile broadband market as of December 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 NCC approved both mergers in January 2023, with some requirements—including disposing of extra bandwidth, raising the coverage rate of 4G and 5G, and addressing the digital divide—to maintain market competition and further strengthen internet connectivity.12 The mergers remain under review by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) as of the end of the coverage period.
- 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, “2022年第4季營運報告[2022 Q4 Operational Report],” March 14, 2023, see page 7, https://www.cht.com.tw/zh-TW/home/cht/-/media/Web/PDF/Investors/Shareho…. National Communications Commission, “寬頻上網帳號數(112年)[2023 Number of Fixed-line Broadband Accounts],”April 2023, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/news_detail.aspx?site_content_sn=2035&ca… result is calculated by the data provided by above reports’statistics.
- 10Chunghwa Telecom, “2022年第4季營運報告[2022 Q4 Operational Report],” March 14, 2023, see page 5, https://www.cht.com.tw/zh-TW/home/cht/-/media/Web/PDF/Investors/Shareho… 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/
- 12Wang 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, May 10, 2022, https://www.chinatimes.com/opinion/20220510005172-262110?chdtv; NCC, “國家通訊傳播委員會第1050次 委員會議紀錄[NCC no.1050 meeting record],” January 18, 2023, https://www.ncc.gov.tw/chinese/files/23011/67_48512_230131_1.pdf; Shelley Shan, “NCC approves mergers of telecom firms,” Taipei Times, January 19, 2023, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/01/19/2003792852/ .
|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
Recordings leaked in October 2022 raised concerns about political interference in the NCC’s January 2022 licensing approval of Mirror TV, the first news TV channel license issued by the NCC over the past 10 years. The recording purportedly features a former Mirror TV executive stating that Premier Su Tseng-chang and President Tsai Ing-wen had pressured the NCC to expedite the license.5 In March 2023, the NCC chair was accused of corruption and malfeasance in relation to this case.6 In May 2023, a Taiwanese court ordered the NCC to reconsider a November 2020 decision to deny the television license renewal of pro-Beijing television channel Chung T’ien Television News (CTiTV).7 The NCC had repeatedly fined and issued warnings to the channel for violating regulations.8
In August 2022, the government inaugurated the new Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA), led by former minister without portfolio Audrey Tang, to develop and promote digital policy innovation and reform in the areas of telecommunication, information, cyber security, internet, and communications.9
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.10 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 the security of critical infrastructure (see C8).
The nature of online information dictates which agency is tasked with particular content regulation (see B2 and B3).11 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…
- 5Shing-Bun Ho, “鏡電視爭議，NCC書面報告曝光！董監認裴偉涉違反公司法…55台TVBS要移頻？陳耀祥：已否決[Mirror TV controversy, NCC written report exposed! Boardmembers believe that Wei Pei is involved in violating the company law... 55 TVBS will shift frequency? Yao-Xiang Chen: rejected],” Business Today, October 05, 2022, https://www.businesstoday.com.tw/article/category/183027/post/202210050…
- 6Flor Wang, Hsieh Hsing-en, Su Ssu-yun and Kay Liu, “NCC chief denies criminal wrongdoing over granting of Mirror TV license,” Focus Taiwan, March 15, 2023, https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202303150024
- 8Laws 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…
- 9https://moda.gov.tw/en/majorpolicies/368Su 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.
- 10Keng-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….
- 11Asia 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|
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).
Websites are sometimes mistakenly blocked under anti-fraud measures, which may be linked to a domain name system (DNS) blocking system that recent disclosures indicate is used widely by law enforcement agencies (see B3). In August 2022, internet users reported that the Google Maps website was blocked and redirected to the anti-fraud page provided by the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) on Taiwan Mobile.1 Taiwan Mobile stated that the measure was a mistake, and critics expressed doubts about the legality of such actions.2 CoinMarketCap, a cryptocurrency exchange and news platform, was found to be blocked by telecommunication companies in September and October 2021, during the previous coverage period. The CIB disclosed that the website was mistakenly blocked in a fraud investigation.3
The government has increased its efforts to restrict Chinese streaming video platform iQIYI, which is owned by the Chinese firm Baidu, in recent years.4 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 over-the-top (OTT) media services via television or other broadcast methods, including the digital television channel service Media on Demand.5 Since 2019, the government has blocked TikTok on government-owned electronic devices for cybersecurity reasons.6
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 in public spaces.7 For example, the city government confirmed that it filtered websites related to drug abuse, adult content, gambling, phishing, sex education, and weapons. Information agencies in the cities of New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung reported to the organization that they did not block websites on their wireless networks.
The Ministry of Education’s Network Guardian Angels (NGA) is a content-filtering software available to the public, geared toward parents and educational institutions. According to a national report, NGA was downloaded nearly 99,000 times between January and November 2020.8 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.9
- 1Yu-Ruey Chen, “Google被刑事局認定「涉及詐騙」網傻眼！台灣大曝真相[Google was regarded by the Criminal Investigation Bureau as to be "involved in fraud", and the netizens were dumbfounded! The truth about Taiwan],” China Times, August 30, 2022, https://www.chinatimes.com/realtimenews/20220830003849-260405?chdtv
- 2TonyQ, “Re: [問卦] googlemap變詐騙網站[Re: [ask] googlemap becomes a fraudulent website]”, PTT, August 30, 2022, https://www.ptt.cc/bbs/Gossiping/M.1661833357.A.620.html
- 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…
- 4Yang 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.
- 5Ministry 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….
- 6Ministry of Digital Affairs, “數位部禁止一般民眾用抖音？[The Ministry of Digital Technology prohibits ordinary people from using Tiktok?],” December 27, 2022, https://moda.gov.tw/press/clarification/3473
- 7Ho 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
- 8The 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…
- 9“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 prohibits the publishing of certain kinds of content and has permitted content removal (see B3).1 The TAHR reported, for example, that the government cited the Commodity Inspection Act and the Consumer Protection Act 714 times in requests to remove content between 2017 and 2018.2 The Copyright Act also lays out a notice-and-takedown procedure that obligates intermediaries to remove third-party content that infringes on copyright.3
The judiciary has addressed cases that include requests to remove content in recent years. In January 2022, during the previous coverage period, a court ordered a city councilor to remove a YouTube video that spread false information about another legislator.4 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.5
iWIN was established under Article 46 of the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act. The act requires that content hosts limit the receiving and browsing of content deemed harmful to the physical and mental health of children and youth, such as content featuring violence, blood, sex, obscenity, and gambling.6 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.7
iWIN reported receiving 2,775 complaints in 2022, including 1,327 cases related to pornography and 75 cases related to false information; the majority of other cases related to child safety. iWIN reported 1,314 of the complaints to companies and deny-listed 397 pieces of content through filtering software.8 It is unclear what percentage of the 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 January to June 2022, after receiving a total of 17 requests. Google disclosed that 10 of the 17 requests related to privacy and security.9 Facebook restricted over 1,420 items in Taiwan during the same period, compared to 4,900 in the second half of 2021, 716 items in the first half of 2021, and less than 10 items in all previous six-month periods.10
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 in Taiwan.11 Restrictions included “social content” keywords, such as words 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. In March 2022, Citizen Lab reported that Apple removed the restrictions.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
- 2“2020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report,” Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Page 56, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 3Copyright Act, Article 90-7 and 90-9, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=J0070017
- 4Judicial 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…
- 5Judicial 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.
- 6iWin, “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.
- 7iWin, ” 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.
- 8iWin, “「iWIN 網路內容防護機構」111 年度申訴案件統計報表 [‘iWIN Internet Content Protection Agency’ 2022 Annual Complaint Case Statistics Report],”, https://i.win.org.tw/upload/data/111_%E5%B9%B4%E5%A0%B1_%E5%AE%98%E7%B6…
- 9Google, “Transparency Report - Taiwan - Government Requests to Remove Content,” accessed March 1912, 20223, https://transparencyreport.google.com/government-removals/government-re…. Chinese version available here: https://transparencyreport.google.com/government-removals/government-re….
- 10Facebook Transparency Center, "Content Restrictions Based on Local Law – Taiwan,” accessed March 12, 2022, https://transparency.fb.com/data/content-restrictions/country/TW.
- 11Jeffrey Knockel and Lotus Ruan, “Engrave Danger: An Analysis of Apple Engraving Censorship across Six Regions,” August 18, 2021, https://citizenlab.ca/2021/08/engrave-danger-an-analysis-of-apple-engra…
- 12Jeffrey Knockel and Lotus Ruan, “Engrave Condition Apple’s Political Censorship Leaves Taiwan, Remains in Hong Kong,” Citizen Lab, March 22, 2022, https://citizenlab.ca/2022/03/engrave-condition-apples-political-censor…
|Do restrictions on the internet and digital content lack transparency, proportionality to the stated aims, or an independent appeals process?||3.003 4.004|
Score Change: The score declined from 4 to 3 after Taiwanese authorities disclosed that they impose website blocks in certain criminal cases with limited transparency and judicial oversight.
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
Recent disclosures indicate that the Taiwanese law enforcement have used a system known as the DNS Response Policy Zone (DNS RPZ) to order internet service providers (ISPs) to block websites implicated in criminal cases without judicial oversight. Under the DNS RPZ system, TWNIC coordinates with service providers to stop resolving DNS requests to domains upon receipt of a court order or an emergency request from a law enforcement agency.2 According to TWNIC's transparency report, from November 2022 to May 2023, law enforcement agencies have proposed a total of nearly 15,000 DNS RPZ blocks, the vast majority of which were filed as emergency requests and related to foreign domain names, though the total number of affected websites is not clear.3 According to the law enforcement agencies, the legal basis of DNS RPZ is Article 38 of the Criminal Law and Article 133-1 of the Criminal Procedure Law.4
Technologists and civil society have criticized the DNS RPZ for the lack of transparency, the number of requests filed under the system, and the lack of oversight.5 Some law enforcement officials have indicated DNS RPZ could also be used in response to false information,6 raising concerns about its broader application.
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.7 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.8 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.9 The court validated the importance of commercial expression that helps consumers make economic choices.
In May 2022, the High Court ruled that Google should de-list information that contains personal attacks or vulgar language but leave contents related to public interest. The court cited the right to information privacy protected by Constitutional Interpretation No. 603 to make the verdict, rather than the right to be forgotten.10 The ruling was issued in the appeal of a 2018 High Court ruling, in which the court held that the PDPA does not explicitly protect the right to be forgotten.11
Several new bills that relate to online content were passed or under consideration during the coverage period. In January 2023, the Legislative Yuan passed a draft amendment to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act that adds criminal penalties for producing or disseminating sexual images of a person without their consent. The amendment requires service providers to remove content relating to the nonconsensual production, leaking, distribution, or manipulation of sexual images and videos when notified by law enforcement.12 Amendments to the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act passed in February 2023 require platforms to create technical systems to remove or restrict the access to illegal content immediately once the content is detected.13 In a May 2022 statement, the Taiwan Internet Governance Forum called for content restrictions to be subject to judicial review and due process.14
In June 2022, 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;15 the NCC subsequently decided not to promote the bill in 2023.16 The DISA would have imposed 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 have required service providers to label content mandated by administrative agencies and to comply with court orders to remove and restrict the spread of content.17
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.18 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 the 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.19 As of February 2023, the government indicated plans to revise the draft IASMA.20
- 12020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, page 82, the list of regulations related to content removal: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 2TWNIC, “我國RPZ應用架構[Taiwan’s RPZ application architecture],” https://rpz.twnic.tw/b_1.html
- 3TWNIC, “透明度報告(情況1.5)[Transparency Report(situation 1.5)]”, https://rpz.twnic.tw/a_1.html
- 4Yueh-Hong Yao and Ting-Chuang Wang, “管理中國內容農場 警：援引現行法令 降低危害[Manage Chinese content farms, Police: Invoke existing laws to reduce harm]”, Liberty Times, December 14, 2022, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/paper/1556938. Bo-Wen Hsiao, “斷開與惡的連結 高檢署推動扣押域名首戰告捷[Breaking the link with evil, the High Prosecutor's Office succeeded in the first battle to promote the seizure of domain names],” CNA, February 05, 2022, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/asoc/202202050094.aspx
- 5Jasper Yu, June 06, 2023, https://www.facebook.com/seadog007/posts/pfbid0FSAHTUWDwGmNDePFP6NyJV8R…
- 6Yueh-Hong Yao and Ting-Chuang Wang, “管理中國內容農場 警：援引現行法令 降低危害[Manage Chinese content farms, Police: Invoke existing laws to reduce harm]”, Liberty Times, December 14, 2022, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/paper/1556938
- 7Ho 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
- 8See 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….
- 9Constitutional 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.
- 10Civil Judgment No. 47, Shang Geng Yi Zi, 110, of the High Court of Taiwan, May 31, 2022, https://judgment.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TPHV,110%2c%e4…; Helen Yu, “The First “Right to be Forgotten” Lawsuit in Taiwan,” Lexology, February 6, 2023, https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=e42481a6-f870-4b72-a494-….
- 11“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…
- 12Lin Minghan, “性侵害犯罪防治法修正三讀 增訂性影像網路下架機制,”UDN,January 10, 2023, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/6900988
- 13See art. 8 and 47 (revised), Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act, February 15, 2023, https://law.moj.gov.tw/Eng/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=D0050023.
- 14Taiwan 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
- 15Shelley Shan, “Controversial digital law open for changes: NCC,” Taipei Times, August 22, 2022, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2022/08/22/2003783934.
- 16“數位中介法引眾怒 NCC確定今年不推了,” Commercial Times, February 1, 2023, https://ctee.com.tw/news/policy/799494.html.
- 17“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-….
- 18Grace 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….
- 19National 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.
- 20Chen Xiuzhi, “數位中介法引眾怒！NCC確定今年不動 推OTT TV專法保護消費者權益,” Yahoo, February 1, 2023, https://tw.stock.yahoo.com/news/%E6%95%B8%E4%BD%8D%E4%B8%AD%E4%BB%8B%E6….
|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 sentenced to five years in prison for “subverting state power”; social media content he posted while in Taiwan was 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 the penalties extends to speech made outside China.3 Similarly, Taiwanese entertainers may have experienced heightened self-censorship when Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the United States House of Representatives, visited Taiwan in August 2022. Some reported facing harassment from Chinese internet users because of the event.4 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.5
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.”6
- 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.
- 4Cai Qinying, "裴洛西訪台 台藝人紛轉發「一個中國」表態,” Yahoo, August 3, 2022, https://tw.news.yahoo.com/裴洛西訪台-台藝人紛轉發-個中國-表態-122429034.html; “注意！報復裴洛西訪台 藝人又被逼表態挺「一個中國」,” Liberty Times Net, August 3, 2022, https://ent.ltn.com.tw/news/breakingnews/4012783.
- 5“'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…
- 6The 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 the reunification of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, flaws in Taiwanese democracy, information discrediting the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and content aimed at smearing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates, particularly during elections.3
In January 2022, the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau reported on the existence of inauthentic accounts on Facebook and Taiwanese platforms PTT and CK101 that distributed false information and content that originated from Chinese content farms.4
In December 2022 and January 2023, researchers at the Taiwanese civil society group Doublethink Lab released two studies examining the impact of pro-China content manipulation on the 2022 local election. These studies pointed out that the Chinese government primarily deployed local Taiwanese online influencers and nationalist Chinese netizens to spread pro-Beijing messages to influence the election and that such content manipulation may have impacted the election results. The studies also found that many people feel they did not have access to accurate information provided by the Taiwanese government.5
An October 2020 report from Doublethink Lab identified several other disinformation tactics used to support commentary that aligns with the Chinese party-state’s positions, including financial incentives for Taiwanese outlets to broadcast pro-China narratives and content farms that disseminate low-quality articles designed to spread quickly on social media. The 2020 report found that pro-China disinformation tactics originated with a range of actors including the Chinese government, the CCP, military agencies, private companies, and ordinary users.6
Other researchers have also observed changes in the ways China’s disinformation and propaganda are targeting Taiwan. For example, after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, videos implying a threat of war were uploaded on YouTube and to Reddit in the Southern Min dialect, which is spoken by many Taiwanese people.7
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.8 China-based Taiwanese vloggers are increasingly active in spreading pro-CCP commentary on social media.9 Reports have also alleged that Taiwanese news outlets have received direction or payment from Beijing. An investigation published in March 2023 by Doublethink Lab showed that Taiwan’s media environment is ranked as the environment most influenced by China among the 82 countries studied, for the second year running.10 In the 2022 Beijing’s Global Media Influence report, which is produced by Freedom House, Taiwan was identified as experiencing the highest level of Chinese influence efforts (as well as the highest level of local resilience).11
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, Ko Wen-je, the 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 In December 2022, following the local election, a report alleged that it uncovered a list of pro-DPP online commentator groups; the DPP responded that the groups were simply for regular political discussion.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#
- 5Jerry Yu, Agnus Lin, Puma Shen, Kevin Zeng, “2022 台灣選舉：境外資訊影響觀測報告[2022 Taiwan Election: Observation Report on Overseas Information Influence],” Doublethink Lab, December 02, 2022, https://medium.com/doublethinklab-tw/2022-%E5%8F%B0%E7%81%A3%E9%81%B8%E…, Chia-Yuan Hsu, Yun-Ru Chen, “2022 不實訊息對選舉影響出口訪調與線上調查數據[2022 Disinformation's Impact on Election: Exit Poll and Online Survey Data]”, Doublethink Lab, January 12, 2023, https://medium.com/doublethinklab-tw/2022-%E4%B8%8D%E5%AF%A6%E8%A8%8A%E…
- 6Lilly 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
- 7Kenddrick Chan and Mariah Thornton, “China’s Changing Disinformation and Propaganda Targeting Taiwan,” The Diplomat, September 19, 2022, https://thediplomat.com/2022/09/chinas-changing-disinformation-and-prop…
- 8Jude 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….;
- 9Lin 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…
- 10https://www.cna.com.tw/news/aipl/202303240106.aspx, Doublethink Lab, “China Index”, https://china-index.io/domain/media
- 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
- 15Po-Yuan Chang, “民進黨高層被控加入「網軍」群組 林鶴明：各黨派都有網友討論時事群組 並不奇怪 [DPP executives were accused of joining the "Internet Army" group, Ho-Ming Lin: It is not surprising that all parties have groups of netizens discussing current affairs],” Newtalk, December 15, 2022, https://newtalk.tw/news/view/2022-12-15/848474
|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 (US$3,600 to US$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
To support the sustainability of news media, there have been discussions around implementing a tax on social media platforms to support local journalism, modeled on Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code. In December 2022, the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA) hosted meetings with Google, Meta, press media organizations, and news media organizations. The MODA stated that its short-term goal is to continue bridging different parties and establishing a mechanism for redistributing profits.6
- 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
- 6"何時提出政府版的「新聞媒體與數位平臺議價法草案」[When will the government version of the "News Media and Digital Platform Bargaining Law Draft" be proposed?]？, Ministry of Digital Affairs, November 30, 2022, https://moda.gov.tw/press/clarification/3220
|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 2022 survey conducted for the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford, 84 percent of the population consumed news online and 58 percent via social media; only 16 percent read print news, down from 41 percent in 2017.1
However, the media environment suffers from political polarization and sensationalist content.2 Only 27 percent of the people surveyed for the Reuters Institute’s 2022 report considered the news reliable, the lowest among people surveyed in Asia-Pacific countries.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 (now known as X), Instagram, and the popular PTT online bulletin board can undermine people’s ability to access reliable information (see B5).5 For instance, misinformation circulated widely during the period of the 2022 “nine-in-one” election. False claims included those that the eligibility age for presidential candidates would be lowered to 18 years old if a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18 was passed, and that voting would be prohibited for people wearing gloves.6
The government, technology industry, and civil society have designed innovative tools to counteract the impact of false and misleading information in Taiwan (see B5).7 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,8 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. For example, Doublethink’s project “Escape the Mist: Disinfo Walkthrough” aims to support civil society efforts to counter mis- and disinformation.9
- 1Lihyun Lin, “Taiwan,” Reuters institute & University of Oxford, June 15, 2022, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2022/tai… Institute & University of Oxford, “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 20220”, Page 102, June 06, 2020, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2020-06/… https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2022/tai…
- 2Reporters without Borders, Taiwan, accessed August 1, 2021, https://rsf.org/en/taiwan
- 3Lihyun Lin, “Taiwan,” Reuters institute & University of Oxford, June 15, 2022, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2022/tai…; “Interactive,” Reuters institute & University of Oxford, 2022, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2022/int… Institute & University of Oxford, “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 20220”, Page 102, June 06, 2020, https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2022-06/…
- 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
- 6Hua-Shen Hu, “2022九合一選舉／看完這再投票！選前假訊息全破解 [2022 Nine-in-One Election / Vote after reading this! Pre-election disinformation cracked],” Global Views, November 25, 2022, https://www.gvm.com.tw/article/96892
- 7Central 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….
- 8LINE 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.
- 9https://fight-dis.info/Doublethink Lab, accessed August 25 May 1 2023, 2021, https://doublethinklab.org/; “Escape the Mist,” accessed May 1, 2023, https://fight-dis.info/.
|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 and mobilization on social media. During the period of the 2022 “nine-in-one” election and 2023 Nantou legislative by-election, candidates from different parties mobilized their supporters to vote on social media.4 People also used social media to bolster support for the constitutional referendum to lower the voting age to 18, including President Tsai Ing-wen, though the referendum ultimately failed to pass.5
In June 2023, after the coverage period, people in Taiwan launched a series of #MeToo campaigns on Facebook and other social media to call attention to sexual harassment.6 The campaigns evolved into a national movement, with more than 150 public figures accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents by the end of the month.7 Some people faced legal threats relating to their allegations of abuse.8
- 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%…
- 4Wu 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.
- 5Bryan Chou, “Taiwan Fails To Lower the Voting Age to 18,” The New Lens, November 26, 2022, https://international.thenewslens.com/article/177195; “挺18歲公民權！ 蔡英文曝光高中嫩照引熱議,” LTN, October 27, 2022, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/4103478.
- 6Amy Chang Chien, “Taiwan Faces a #MeToo Wave, Set Off by a Netflix Hit”, New York Times, June 27, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/25/world/asia/taiwan-harassment-metoo.h…
- 8Wen-Che Hsieh, “瘦子遭控染指18歲女！不忍了喊告 爆料者回應了[The Shou-Zhi was accused of molesting an 18-year-old girl! Can't bear to file the litigation, the whistleblower responded]”, Mirror Media, June 27, 2023, https://www.mirrormedia.mg/story/20230623edi001/. Yi-Wen Shih, “陳建州提告大牙！PTT點名「2關鍵人物」要穩住：誰贏誰輸不好說 [Jian-Chou Chen sued Da Ya! PTT named "2 key people" to be steady: it's hard to say who wins and who loses],” ETToday, June 28, 2023, https://www.ettoday.net/news/20230628/2529119.htm
|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
In February 2023, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) proposed revising the All-out Defense Mobilization Readiness Act, which addresses wartime mobilization. After a wave of criticism, the Ministry withdrew the draft amendments in early March.6 Provisions of the amendments that obligated the publishing industry, media, broadcasting TV, and internet platforms to cooperate with the government during mobilization raised free expression concerns; the bill’s supporters argued that the provisions sought to counter information operations during wartime.7
- 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.
- 6Wu Liang-yi and Jake Chung, “Ministry withdraws mobilization draft,” Taipei Times, March 4, 2023, https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/03/04/2003795464.
- 7Ministry of National Defense, “全民防衛動員準備法修正草案 總說明,” accessed May 1, 2023, https://join.gov.tw/policies/detail/d15045d0-06c8-45ba-b276-e439b66ed8d9; You Kaixiang, “國防部：全民防衛動員法應對認知戰 戰時納管媒體非戒嚴軍管,” CNA, February 26, 2023, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/aipl/202302260183.aspx; Joseph Yeh, “Revisions to divisive mobilization act not finalized: Presidential Office,” Focus Taiwan, March 1, 2023, https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202303010020.
|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 (US$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 (US$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 to 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 In June 2023, after the coverage period, the Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of Article 310, ruling that the standard was proportionate and did not violate freedom of expression rights.5 The court specified that freedom of expression did not extend to false information transmitted without efforts to verify the information.6
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 (US$1,080).7 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.8
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 and expired in June 2023 (see C6), 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.9 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.10
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 penalty 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.11 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.12 After the passage of the act, pro-Beijing online media outlet Master Chain announced that it was ending operations in Taiwan.13
Under the Disaster Prevention and Rescue Law, anyone who knowingly reports false information about a disaster faces fines of between NT$300,000 to NT$500,000 (between US$10,800 to US$18,000).14 The Food Administration Act states that no one shall “deliberately disseminate rumors or false information” relating to market food prices and the implementation of food productive programs, among other issues.15
The draft amendment to the All-out Defense Mobilization Readiness Act introduced in February 2023 and withdrawn in March 2023 (see C1) included a provision that imposed a maximum penalty of three years in prison or a fine of up to NT$ 1 million (US$32,000) for spreading false information during wartime. Those who spread the false information through broadcasting TV, electronic communication, or the internet would be subject to more severe penalties.16
- 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….
- 5Chang-Shun Lin and Oscar Wu, “Court rules defamation clauses constitutional,” Focus Taiwan, June 10, 2023, https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202306100013
- 6Constitutional Court, “112年憲判字第8號【誹謗罪案（二）】[TCC Judgment 112-Hsien-Pan-8],” June 09, 2023, see paragraph 73, https://cons.judicial.gov.tw/docdata.aspx?fid=38&id=340775
- 7Laws 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.
- 8Chen 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
- 9Laws 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
- 10Laws 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
- 11Laws 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
- 12Laws and Regulations Database of The Republic of China, “Anti-Infiltration Act,” https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030317
- 13Huang Tzu-ti, “Pro-China Master Chain quits Taiwan,” Taiwan News, January 1, 2020, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3848481
- 14Laws 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.
- 15Laws 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.
- 16Ministry of National Defense, “全民防衛動員準備法修正草案 總說明,” accessed May 1, 2023, https://join.gov.tw/policies/detail/d15045d0-06c8-45ba-b276-e439b66ed8d9;; https://www.cna.com.tw/news/aipl/202302260183.aspx Minnie Chan, “Taiwan’s plans to target fake news fan fears of threat to press freedom,” South China Morning Post, February 27, 2023, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3211732/taiwans-plans-….
|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.
The most recent data available showed that cases under the Article 63(5) of 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 cases with regard to political speech from the coverage period were related to the SOMA, though only few resulted in fines, unlike in previous years. In September 2022, an influencer was fined NT$3,000 (US$108) for spreading false information on the videogame streaming platform Twitch that President Tsai Ing-wen had died. 4 In June 2022, a man was fined NT$5,000 (US$160) in a SOMA case over messages he sent via Line with false claims about COVID-19 vaccines.5
Most investigations under the SOMA were dismissed by the judiciary. In December 2022, the court acquitted Zhong Chin, a former government official charged under SOMA over messages in a Line group about the Russia-Ukraine War in March 2022, including false claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin was going to punish the airlines of Taiwan. The court ruled that Zhong did not violate the law as her speech did not disrupt public order.6 In March 2023, DPP legislator Lin Ching-Yi was acquitted of SOMA charges for a Facebook post alleging that a video of ballots being counted was manipulated; local authorities later substantiated Lin’s allegations. The court held that Lin’s comments were protected under freedom of expression.7
In February 2022, during the previous coverage period, a court found Yang Hui-ru and Cai Fu-ming guilty of insulting a public official under Article 140 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.8 Yang and Cai were charged in relation to claims that they incited people to spread rumors that allegedly contributed to a diplomat’s death by suicide in 2018 and for insulting public officials.9 In September 2022, the Constitutional Court accepted Yang’s appeal, challenging the constitutionality of Article 140; the court had not yet ruled on the appeal as of the end of the coverage period. 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, which expired in June 2023, during the coverage period. One user, for example, was fined and issued a suspended sentence and a NT$5,000 (US$160) fine in January 2023 for claiming to be COVID-positive to a Line group.11 Other cases include a man fined NT$70,000 (US$2,246) for spreading a rumor relating to vaccination on Line in March 202312 and a man fined NT$20,000 (US$642) with a suspended sentence for spreading the rumor that President Tsai Ing-wen had a positive rapid test on forum site Komica in February 2023.13
- 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
- 4臺灣新北地方法院三重簡易庭裁定, September 30, 2022, https://judgment.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=SJEM,111%2c%e9…
- 5臺灣彰化地方法院刑事裁定, June 30, 2022, https://judgment.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=CHDM,111%2c%e7….
- 6Xiao Yajuan, “轉傳俄將修理台灣 鍾琴獲免罰[Forwarding that Russia will punish Taiwan, Qin Zhong was exempted from punishment],” UDN, August 5, 2022, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/6513686.
- 7Zeng Jianyou, “林靜儀遭移送散布謠言 辯影片潘孟安傳給她的裁定不罰[Jing-Yi Lin was transferred for spreading rumors, she argue that the film was provided by Meng-An Pan, the court ruled not to punish]“ , UDN, March 11, 2023, https://udn.com/news/story/7321/7024779.
- 8Yang 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
- 9Weng 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
- 10Wu Zhengfeng, “侮辱公務員判刑5月確定 卡神楊蕙如聲請釋憲獲准,” Liberty Times, September 27, 2022, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/breakingnews/4070838.
- 11https://law.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TTDM,110%2c%e6%9d%b… Lizhong, “吃飽太閒？ 無聊男惡作劇稱「中疫情了」 被舉發假訊息罰5000元,” January 31, 2023, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/breakingnews/4196608
- 12臺灣新北地方法院刑事判決, March 20, 2023, https://judgment.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=PCDM,111%2c%e6…
- 13臺灣桃園地方法院刑事簡易判決, February 12, 2023, https://judgment.judicial.gov.tw/FJUD/data.aspx?ty=JD&id=TYDM,111%2c%e5…
|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 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 Civil society organizations including the Taiwan Association for Human Rights raised serious concerns about the infringement on digital privacy in the draft.8 In October 2022, the attorney general again called for the passage of the law in order to combat fraud.9 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.
- 8Kuan-Ju Chou, “【投書】無視人權與民主參與的科偵法草案[Draft Technology Investigation Act Disregards Human Rights and Democratic Participation],” Taiwan Association for Human Rights, September 15, 2020, https://www.tahr.org.tw/news/2777.
- 9Cheng-Feng Wu, “儘速科偵立法 檢打詐才有武器[Legislating technology investigation act as sson as possible, so that prosecutors have weapon to fight against fraud]”Liberty Times Net, October 16, 2022, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/society/paper/1546005
|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 types 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 44,238 communications surveillance cases and over 100,000 communication record retrieval cases in 2022.9 More than 95 percent of cases did not require court approval, compared to 96 percent in 2021. 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 non-telecommunication personal data, such as chat records in instant message apps, with a court-approved search warrant or by receiving the voluntary consent of the person being searched.13
The draft Technology Investigation Act, introduced in September 2020 and still pending as of the end of the coverage period, 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
Law enforcement agencies 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 an 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, “111年法院辦理通訊監察業務概述 [Overview of communication surveillance business handled by Court in 2022]”, ; https://www.judicial.gov.tw/tw/cp-1759-810735-473bc-1.html
- 10Ministry of Justice, "111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 2022 - 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, https://talk.ltn.com.tw/article/breakingnews/2907573
- 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, 20212, 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, though the government moved toward establishing one during the coverage period. 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 August 2022, the Constitutional Court found that the lack of an independent and dedicated competent authority in PDPA was unconstitutional and ordered the government to remediate the problem within three years.3 In April 2023, the Executive Yuan passed amendments to the PDPA that would establish an independent Personal Data Protection Commission and raise the penalty for data breach events caused by nongovernment agencies;4 the Legislative Yuan passed the amendment in May.5 It is expected that the process to establish the Personal Data Protection Commission will be started in late 2023.6
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.7
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).8 Compliance rates vary. For example, Taiwan Mobile reported that it received almost 200,000 data requests from law enforcement units in 2021 and complied with 99.98%.9 Chunghwa Telecom stated that it received 659,429 data requests from government and law enforcement units in 2021, and it agreed to provide data in 47.1% of cases, with objections covering noncompliance with regulation.10
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.11 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.12
Several laws mandate different data retention requirements.13 Telecommunications providers are required to store communication records, subscriber information, and billing details for at least a year.14
The Special Act for Prevention, Relief, and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens expired in June 2023.15 The special act was enacted in February 2020 for combating the COVID-19 pandemic.16 It gave the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) broad power to conduct contact tracing and publicize personal information but had been criticized by civil society groups and other experts as lacking legality and proportionality.17
The Electronic Fence System uses mobile location tracking data to ensure individuals remain in quarantine.18 It remained active during the coverage period, though its measures were reportedly loosened in May 2022.19 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,20 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.21 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.22 The data is purportedly only supposed to be used for epidemiological investigations.23 However, in June 2021, a Taichung District Court judge alleged that the service was used to locate an accused individual in a criminal investigation.24 The NCC responded by again stating that the service is only used for epidemiological purposes.25
- 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.
- 3111年憲判字第13號, August 11, 2022, https://cons.judicial.gov.tw/docdata.aspx?fid=38&id=309956
- 4Executive Yuan, “政院通過「個人資料保護法」第1條之1、第48條、第56條修正草案 設置個資保護獨立監督機關並提高個資外洩罰責[The Executive Yuan passed the draft amendments to Article 1-1, Article 48, and Article 56 of the "Personal Data Protection Act", setting up an independent supervision agency for personal data protection and increasing penalties for personal data leakage]”, April 13, 2023, https://www.ey.gov.tw/Page/9277F759E41CCD91/2d6bb590-fa47-435f-818e-c19…
- 5Lin Ching-Yin and Evelyn Yang, “Bill to establish data protection agency clears legislative floor”, Focus Taiwan, May 16, 2023, https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202305160014
- 7Ministry 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
- 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 available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=K0060044.
- 9“個資安全及隱私保護[Personal Data Security and Privacy Protection],”Taiwan Mobile, accessed May 1, 2023, https://corp.taiwanmobile.com/esg/personalDataProtection.html?fbclid=Iw…
- 10“確保客戶隱私權益[Ensuring Customers’ Right to Privacy],” Chunghwa Telecom, accessed May 1, 2023, https://www.cht.com.tw/zh-tw/home/cht/ESG/Customer-Care/Privacy-Protect…
- 112020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 122020 Taiwan Internet Transparency Report, https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jBBtx6Bec298Zi8vdqGrDf6CEfakuOSP/view
- 13Laws & 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
- 14Laws 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.
- 15Shen Peiyao, “紓困特別條例6月退場 政府擬修傳染病防治法因應未來防疫之需[The Special Act will be withdrawn in June, and the government plans to amend the Communicable Disease Control Act to meet the needs of future epidemic prevention]“ CNA, January 9, 2023, https://www.cna.com.tw/news/ahel/202301090142.aspx
- 16Laws 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.
- 17Covid-19 and Data Privacy Challenges in Taiwan, Chuan-Feng Wu, https://lexatlas-c19.org/covid-19-and-data-privacy-challenges-in-taiwan….; Taiwan Association for Human Rights, ”【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[[TAHR’s Statement] When the rule of law meets the virus: Do not abuse general clauses, epidemic prevention and democracy can coexist]” March 18, 2020, https://www.tahr.org.tw/news/2622.; Rong-Geng Lee, “李榮耕觀點：警察，我在這裡—簡訊實聯制的法律依據何在？[Lee Ronggeng’s Viewpoint: Police, I’m Here—What’s the Legal Basis for the SMS Real-time Tracking System?],” The Strom Media, June 24, 2021, https://www.storm.mg/article/3770196
- 18“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…
- 19Matthew Strong, “Taiwan loosens COVID digital fence, restrictions on close contacts,” Taiwan News, May 7, 2022, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4530741.
- 20“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.
- 21“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-…
- 22SMS contact-tracing - The service for general public to search the requested information, https://web.archive.org/web/20220525220635/https://sms.1922.gov.tw/.
- 23Audrey Tang, “1922 SMS: Easy and secure contact tracing,” Commonwealth, May 20, 2021, https://english.cw.com.tw/article/article.action?id=2986
- 24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
- 25Shelley Shan, “COVID-19: SMS system not used by police,” Taipei Times, June 22, 2021, https://taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/06/22/2003759599
|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 December 2022, shortly after the 2022 local election, an online celebrity claimed that she had received threats from netizens and lost her job as a result of an online argument with prominent PTT influencer 4xCat.1 In August 2022, after two police officers were killed, a man was falsely accused of being the murderer by a large number of internet users and media outlets.2
The normalization of doxing has also become a barrier for government transparency. For example, in November 2022, the government refused to provide a list of vaccine review experts, citing concerns over their safety and the risks of doxing.3
Although not routine, users have faced physical threats in relation to online activities during previous coverage periods. In February 2022, PTT influencer 4xCat was threatened by a municipal candidate over Facebook posts criticizing him.4
Taiwanese legislators have sought to limit the reach of online sexual harassment (see B3). 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 2022.6
- 1UDN, “網紅護理師遭威脅「不讓你安寧」報案再提離職 四叉貓笑：我贏了[The online celebrity nurse was threatened to "not let you live in peace" and reported to the police before resigning, The celebrity 4x-cat laughed: I won],” December 20, 2022,https://udn.com/news/story/6656/6852436
- 2Li-An Hou, “殺警案他衰成全民肉搜 政院：若是警方造成「需致最大歉意」[The murder of the police has turned into a nationwide doxing and misidentify. The Government: If the police cause "the greatest apology"],” UDN, August 23, 2022, https://udn.com/news/story/6656/6558832
- 3Hui-Chin Lin, “不公開審查高端專家 王必勝：發生獵巫、肉搜、騷擾會對不起他們[Do not disclose the experts who review Medigen, Bi-Sheng Wang: Witch hunting, doxing, harassment will be sorry for them],”, Liberty Times, November 22, 2022, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/4131681
- 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. Data breaches are common, including during the coverage period.
In June 2022, the DCS reported that government agencies were targeted with 696 cybersecurity incidents in 2021. Some 63.32 percent of the incidents from were categorized as “illegal intrusion” relating to third-party vulnerabilities, 12.9 percent were equipment problems, 4.1 percent were attacks against webpages, and the remainder were related to 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 August 2022, during Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan, government websites—including the Office of the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of National Defense—all suffered DDoS attacks.4 Hacker organizations based in China claimed credit for some of the attacks.5
In October 2022, security researchers reported that an online hacker forum had offered to sell Taiwan's household registration information that was claimed to include more than 23 million entries, which is almost equivalent to the population of Taiwan.6 Analysis of a subset of that data found that it included names, identification numbers, home addresses, and other sensitive personal information and that it likely originated in 2019.7 In February 2023, the Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Justice (MJIB) reported that the hacker is suspected to be a Chinese national.8
Private sector data leaks are also a serious issue in Taiwan. Cybersecurity firm Check Point reported that entities in Taiwan face over 3,000 cyberattacks every week.9 Several customer data leaks occurred during the coverage period. Those cases involved car rental and sharing services platform iRent,10 the airline Chinese Airline,11 and the chain department store Breeze.12
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.13 The Executive Yuan was responsible for establishing the DCS.14
- 1Executive YuanMinistry of Digital Affairs, “20201 Report for the Situation of National Information and Communication Security ”, June 17,, 20212, https://moda.gov.tw/ACS/press/govinfo/report/1351.https://nicst.ey.gov…, 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….
- 4Chi-Hsin Liu, “網軍現身──裴洛西來台揭開台海網戰序曲，「混合戰」將如何發生？平民與企業如何應對？[The appearance of the cyber army──Pelosi came to Taiwan to open the prelude to the cyber war in the Taiwan Strait. How will the "hybrid war" happen? How are civilians and businesses responding?]”, The Reporter, August 5, 2022, https://www.twreporter.org/a/us-house-speaker-nancy-pelosi-asia-tour-in…
- 5Chun-Yo Chou, “臺灣8月初因裴洛西訪臺而遭到網路攻擊的事件總覽[Overview of cyber attacks on Taiwan due to Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in early August]”, iThome, August 12, 2022, https://www.ithome.com.tw/news/152491
- 6Liao Guiru, “【獨家】戶政系統遭駭》鎖定民眾戶籍網上賣 宜蘭政壇心慌慌 檢調介入（更新）,” People News, December 4, 2022,https://www.peoplenews.tw/articles/5f8b568f47
- 7Lin Yanting, “2300萬戶政資料全外洩 個資一覽無遺 立委痛批「行政院還在睡」[All 23 million household registration data leaked, all personal information was seen, legislators criticized "Executive Yuan is still sleeping"],”CTS, December 9, 2022, https://news.cts.com.tw/cts/politics/202212/202212092119417.html
- 8Jono Thomson, “Chinese national accused of 2022 mass data leak, Taiwan News, February 24, 2023, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4820620.https://news.ltn.com.tw/n…
- 9Sean Scanlan, “Cyber attacks increase 10% in Taiwan in 2022,” Taiwan News, January 17, 2023, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4783488.
- 10“iRent fined for data leak,” CNA, February 29, 2023, https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202302090021Lai 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
- 11“Taiwan: data from 3 million China Airlines accounts leaked.” inCyber, February 14, 2023, https://incyber.org/en/taiwan-data-from-3-million-china-airlines-accoun… 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
- 12Hwang Tzu-ti, “Taipei’s Breeze Center hacked, 900,000 customers' data leaked,” Taiwan News, February 24, 2023, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4820045Ma 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
- 13Laws 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.
- 14Laws and Regulations Database, “Cyber Security Management Act,” June 06, 2018, https://law.moj.gov.tw/ENG/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030297. Chinese version available here: https://law.moj.gov.tw/LawClass/LawAll.aspx?pcode=A0030297.
See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.See More
Global Freedom Score94 100 free
Internet Freedom Score78 100 free
Freedom in the World StatusFree