The Executive Yuan yesterday sent back a controversial proposal tabled by the National Communications Commission (NCC) after Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) decided to hold off a review amid concern it might infringe on freedom of speech.
Chang, who is in charge of the review of the amendments to the Telecommunications Act (電信法), said he would not hold a review until the commission presents draft bills to complete the legal framework for digital convergence, scheduled for March next year.
Once the necessary legislation has been enacted to allow cross-investment in telecommunications, broadcasting and Internet operations, the Telecommunications Act, the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法), the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法) and the Cable Radio and Television Act (有線廣播電視法) would be repealed, he said.
The decision meant that some controversial articles in the proposed amendment — dubbed by netizens as a re-emergence of the White Terror era — has, in effect, been rejected.
Under the proposed article 9 of the Telecommunications Act, enterprises operating telecommunication services for public use can disable Internet access, delete content on the Web or take appropriate measures to block Internet content deemed detrimental to public order and good morals.
The article also states that telecommunication enterprises should act at the request of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to block Internet content considered by the regulatory agency to be unlawful.
“Due to the open nature of the Internet, if rules need to be drawn up to regulate Internet content, they should not be very strict,” Chang said. “It’s out of the question to effectively regulate content on the Internet.”
Chang, who was director of Google Asia Regional Infrastructure before joining the Cabinet last year, has said previously that most of his friends in the business community were opposed to the amendment, which they described as “standing in clear contrast with international trends.”