The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Energy has admitted that it bought keyword advertising linking the names of several prominent anti-nuclear activists with a pro-nuclear Web site when any of their names is entered in search engines.
The anti-nuclear activists from various civic groups discovered that when they searched for their own names on Google, Yahoo and other search engines, a pro-nuclear power Web site (anuclear-safety.twenergy.org.tw) operated by the ministry will appear as the first suggested Web site.
As the Web site’s content is clearly in contrast with the activists’ beliefs about nuclear power, the anti-nuclear advocates, including Nuclear-Free Homeland Alliance executive director Lee Cho-han (李卓翰), Tokyo-based Taiwanese anti-nuclear writer Liu Li-erh (劉黎兒) and Green Consumers Foundation chairman Jay Fang (方儉), among others, expressed anger and disgust about the advertising link.
The linkage was first discovered by Lee last week when he was searching for his own name on Google. He immediately contacted Google and Yahoo on the same day, asking them to take down the advertisement.
The Bureau of Energy said on Tuesday that it had bought the keyword advertisement on popular search engines, linking to a total of 92 keywords — including 29 names of people who often spoke publicly about nuclear power.
The bureau said that it not only linked the Web site to names of anti-nuclear activists, but also government officials, such as Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and Taiwan Power Co vice president Chen Pu-tsan (陳布燦), and that the purpose was to allow members of the public who are interested in nuclear power issues to notice the official Web site and get another perspective.
In response, Liu posted a statement on anti-nuclear power group Mom Loves Taiwan’s Facebook page, calling the ministry “detestable” for spending taxpayers’ money on “using lies and contrary opinions to link with my name, and making people who searched my name wanting to understand me, drink poison and be brainwashed.”
Fang also criticized the situation through his Facebook page, saying that the behavior is “extremely despicable” and suggested that legislators and the Control Yuan investigate whether the government official that spent taxpayers’ money on buying advertisements, thereby infringing upon basic human rights are qualified to manage the nation’s energy policies.
Although the search engines took down the links on Tuesday, Lee said he is considering filing a lawsuit against the bureau for its disrespect to these individuals, for which it had not even apologized.