Fri, Mar 17, 2017 - Page 3 News List

NCC to meet with social networks on ‘fake news’

UNHEEDED ADVICE:Only 15 percent of agencies had established fact-checking areas on their Web sites as suggested by the commission, one DPP lawmaker said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it would meet with representatives of Facebook, Line and other major online service providers next month to discuss possible ways to curb the spread of “fake news” over the Internet.

The circulation of fake news over the Internet and its potential to damage democracy was the focus of yesterday’s meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, at which commission Chairwoman Nicole Chan (詹婷怡) briefed lawmakers on the agency’s budget for fiscal year 2017.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) and Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書), as well as Independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇), urged the commission to be more active in combating fake news.

Chao cited as an example an online report that said Chan’s annual salary is NT$590 million (US$19.24 million), which is the commission’s annual budget.

Lin quoted the commission as having told a Cabinet meeting that the most effective way to limit the damage caused by fake news was for each government agency to establish a section on its Web site to respond to what it regarded as false information on its policies and offer accurate information.

The agency also suggested that an independent third party should be entrusted with verifying the authenticity of information, he added.

What would there be left for the commission to do if it passes the buck to government agencies and a third party, Lin said.

The German government is considering mandating that social media networks establish an office tasked with handling fake news or hateful speech, with noncompliant firms facing 500,000 euro (US$535,893) fines for each fake news report shared on their Web sites, he said.

“Our government needs to be more active in addressing this matter,” Lin said.

Huang said that only 15 percent of government agencies have followed the commission’s advice and created a fact-checking section on their Web sites.

Such a section is nowhere to be found on the Web sites of the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration and the Ministry of Labor, even though the two agencies are dealing with hot-button issues related to a new five-day workweek policy and pension reform, he added.

Chan said that fake news created to damage national security mechanisms should be addressed by national security agencies.

“Government agencies are responsible for pointing out false information and informing the public about the truthful details of policies they are supposed to defend,” Chan said, adding that an independent third party should be invited to verify news reports.

The commission has scheduled a meeting with the representatives of a number of major online service providers next month, Chan said, adding that they would discuss if a mechanism to effectively block the dissemination of fake news could be implemented in Taiwan.

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