Sun, Sep 23, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Government must crack down on Web misuse

By Martin Oei 黃世澤

The director-general of the Osaka branch of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office took his own life because he could not bear the fake news surrounding the office’s handling of flooding at Kansai International Airport after Typhoon Jebi early this month. The incident has shown the frightening nature of China’s “Internet water army” — people paid to flood the Internet with destabilizing comments.

Internet users have found that the first fake report about the Kansai incident was posted by user czqs2000. Trackers have shown that the IP address is for a China Unicom address in Beijing and czqs2000 has all along claimed to be from Beijing.

That the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is using stories made up by someone in Beijing is clear evidence that it is running errands for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The Professional Technology Temple (PTT) bulletin board administration has temporarily suspended registrations of new accounts, something it should have done long ago. HKGolden, a Hong Kong Internet forum that is as well known as PTT, used to restrict membership almost exclusively to users who had an account with a Hong Kong-based Internet service provider to prevent the Internet water army from spreading confusion and chaos.

Perhaps PTT should consider something similar to eliminate all IP addresses based in China to keep most of the Internet water army out.

On my own Web site, I have blocked IP addresses from China, Russia and Macau to prevent them from posting misleading information.

For the sake of national security, the Internet water army must not influence the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 24, so PTT should block IP addresses based in Macau and Russia as well, and perhaps even IP addresses from some countries that are friendly toward China.

However, not even a Chunghwa Telecom IP address can guarantee that the user is Taiwanese. Some Chinese are leasing server space from Chunghwa Telecom to disseminate spam, and such IP addresses could easily be used by the Internet water army.

If similar incidents are to be prevented, the government must prohibit Chunghwa Telecom from leasing server space or IP addresses to Chinese businesses.

Even foreign businesses should be investigated to find out whether they are owned by people of Chinese descent. If the owner is from China or has close relationships with pro-CCP organizations in Macau or Hong Kong, it should not be allowed to use Chunghwa Telecom’s services.

If not, it would be easy for the Internet water army to rent a Chunghwa Telecom IP and the pretend to be Taiwanese by using a virtual private network.

Top officials from Facebook are to visit Taiwan next week. That is an opportunity to tell them to remove the fake Facebook accounts that are used to stir things up. If they continue to tolerate fake Chinese accounts, Chinese employees at Facebook should be banned from entering Taiwan, especially those with family members who hold high positions in the CCP.

Key Internet opinion leaders who have already revealed their real status should also be investigated to clarify whether their income is connected to the CCP or Taiwanese businesses with close ties to Beijing. If they are, there actions and statements should also be monitored.

Past governments have paid too scant attention to the Internet water army and this might have in part led to the death of a government official.

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