Thu, Dec 01, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Commission refuses to regulate Google

NOT OUR JOB:The National Communications Commission voted against a Ministry of Justice request to oversee Google Maps’ content, saying Maps is not a media service

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday declined a request from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to be the administrative authority in charge of regulating the use of personal information at Google Inc, saying it was not designed to be an enforcer of the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法).

Google has often been accused of leaking personal information online, but the nation has yet to form a central government agency that can regulate its services.

NCC spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said NCC commissioners unanimously voted to turn down the request from the ministry.

“Google has a search engine, Google Maps and other functions. None of these services need to secure approval from the NCC, which should not have any regulatory role vis-a-vis Google,” Chen said.

A senior executive officer in the NCC’s law department, Wang Yo-fen (王幼芬), said the ministry had asked the NCC to monitor and regulate Google’s content because the company had imported eight mobile phones to launch the Google Maps service and the specifications of the mobile phones were approved by the NCC.

As the NCC helps to distribute various complaints about online content to different organizations responsible for such content, it would also be a more efficient overseer of Google because its services are all offered online, the ministry said.

Wang said the NCC opposed such an arrangement because Google Maps is neither a telecommunications service nor a media service. She said that it involved the use of the personal information and should be regulated by an administrative agency in charge of enforcing the act.

She also said that no other country has placed Google Maps under the watch of a media regulator like the NCC.

Wang added that the Google Maps service is regulated by the Federal Wiretap Act in the US, while any dispute would be settled in local courts.

In Canada, the UK, Germany and several countries in Europe, the service is regulated by acts protecting personal privacy or data. Nearly all have specific government agencies enforcing those acts.

“The ministry’s reasoning was flawed because it essentially set a volatile standard to determine who should be in charge,” she said. “If banks are overseen by the Financial Supervisory Committee [FSC], the banks in virtual reality should be overseen by the FSC as well.”

Wang said the commission would inform the Executive Yuan and the ministry of the commission’s final decision.

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