Fri, Dec 07, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Draft bill aims to restrict foreign poll-related ads

By Chen Yu-fu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A billboard for Wang Ming-li’s New Taipei City councilor campaign is pictured on Nov. 8 in New Taipei City, stating that she was a victim of smear tactics.

Photo: Chiu Shu-yu, Taipei Times

The Ministry of the Interior yesterday approved draft amendments to the Presidential and Vice Presidential Election and Recall Act (總統副總統選舉罷免法) that seek to prevent disinformation and external forces from influencing elections.

If passed by the legislature, the amendments would restrict media companies from disseminating election-related advertisements funded by groups or individuals from overseas, including China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Offenses are punishable either by a fine of NT$200,000 to NT$10 million (US$6,482 to US$324,076) or a fine double the cost of the advertisement, the ministry said.

“Mass media companies airing or carrying advertisements on election campaigns or campaigns to recall a government official should — in addition to current regulations that mandate transparency of the individual placing the advertisement — also make known the individual or group funding the advertisement, as well as other relevant information,” the bill says.

The ministry said it referenced the US’ Honest Ads Act when drafting the amendments.

With the planned removal of Article 52 of the Civil Servants Recall and Election Act (公職人員選舉罷免法), the ministry hopes to address similar anachronisms in the two acts, the ministry said.

The amendments also plan to restore the right to vote to people under official guardianship, as the right to vote is constitutionally guaranteed, but the guardianship system extends only to rights to property or handling contracts, the ministry said.

The amendments also seek to ban people who have been tried and convicted for contravening the National Security Act (國家安全法), the Classified National Security Information Protection Act (國家機密保護法) and the National Intelligence Services Act (國家情報工作法) from registering as a candidate for president, the ministry said.

The amendments call for the Central Election Commission to establish a system that would allow people registering to run for president or vice president to gather signatures electronically, the ministry said.

The system would prevent false signatures and external influence, the ministry added.

The amendments would mandate that only political parties that have obtained 5 percent of the total votes in the most recent legislative elections to be allowed to nominate presidential and vice presidential candidates, it said.

That would uphold the fairness of elections and recall polls, the ministry said, adding that if the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan pass the amendments they would apply to the 2020 presidential and legislative elections.

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