Time right for DPP to develop ‘silicon shield’

By Kang Yu-tsai 康友財  / 

Mon, Nov 19, 2018 - Page 6

The issue of “fake news” could become an issue on which the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) can make a real contribution to the international community, and in so doing raise their international reputations.

Asked by two US professors of law at a meeting in Europe early last month what the nation was doing to tackle fake news, Chiang Ya-chi (江雅綺), an associate professor in the Graduate Institute of Intellectual Property at National Taipei University of Technology, said that Taiwan seems to have no strategy in place.

Clearly, allies around the world are concerned about the “information warfare” that China and Russia have launched against democratic countries.

It seems that, since the 2016 US presidential election, no effective countermeasures have been developed. This is also the case in Taiwan. Information warfare is the ultimate weapon of rogue states, which use democracy to fight democracy, intending to destroy free and open electoral systems in Europe and the US.

This crisis could also be a turning point. Taiwan has come to be known as a “hackers’ paradise.”

According to an Asia-Pacific information security report released by Microsoft this year, information security attacks last year alone cost the nation as much as NT$810 billion (US$26.2 billion), or 5 percent of GDP.

Taiwan has often been at the top of the list of countries from where large-scale distributed denial-of-service attacks have originated, due to the amount of “zombie computers” here.

Taiwan lacks adequate education on information security and is right next to China, a totalitarian country with its “great firewall.”

Taiwan is a major producer of information hardware and a major victim in the new “information warfare” era. If the DPP is smart, and Tsai determined enough, they would redistribute resources, recruit talent, allocate funding, monitor the unfolding situation and conduct in-depth research into the disinformation that bombards the nation, so Taiwanese would at least know where the attacks were coming from and which areas were most vulnerable.

From there, the government could work out viable solutions, or launch an initiative with other countries on the issue.

Taiwan, Tsai and the DPP could become be a model for other democratic nations. An impenetrable “silicon shield” around the nation would help it become a core member of the world’s democratic allies.

The government should look beyond Saturday’s nine-in-one elections and the DPP’s performance, and move to initiate a program to appraise the situation, collate data and analyze Chinese information warfare that emerged in the run-up to voting. This would reinforce national security.

The likelihood is that this work would not be done should the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) return to power. Even if it did carry out such an initiative, would the results be trusted by Europe and the US?

Now is the time for the DPP to turn a crisis to its advantage.

Kang Yu-tsai is an adjunct professor.

Translated by Lin Lee-kai