Wed, Sep 19, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers weigh in on fake news, diplomat’s suicide

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Lawmakers yesterday weighed in on calls to amend the National Security Act (國家安全法) — an issue that has generated much public discussion since Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), director-general of the Osaka branch of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, committed suicide last week.

Su was allegedly the victim of fake news disseminated by a number of Chinese agencies, including Xinhua news agency and the Guancha Syndicate, which earlier this month reported that the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) sent a shuttle bus to Kansai International Airport and evacuated “Chinese” stranded by Typhoon Jebi, including some Taiwanese.

Su said in his suicide note that he had been troubled by the “news,” which was proven false by the Japanese airport after Su’s death.

When asked yesterday whether the Ministry of the Interior was going to amend the act to combat fake news, Executive Yuan deputy spokesman Ting Yun-kung (丁允恭) said that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) had tendered a motion to amend it.

The government believes that agendas behind fake news reports from overseas could pose national security risks and must not be overlooked, Ting said.

The ministry and the National Communications Commission are reviewing the act and other regulations, and assessing the need for an amendment to curb fake news, he said, adding that the government would reference laws passed by other democratic nations.

Yeh yesterday said that her draft amendment seeks to include the “fifth domain” (the Internet) within the scope of national security.

“The sovereignty of the Republic of China covers the cyberspace delineated by its Internet infrastructure as well as its territories,” the amendment reads.

In a globalized and information-based era, the nation is under threat by state-sponsored and private hackers, who infiltrate and sabotage the nation’s information infrastructure, Yeh said.

Asked whether the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) would propose legislation to curb fake news, KMT caucus secretary-general William Tseng (曾銘宗) said it would not, as such a move could limit press freedom and freedom of speech, which Taiwan cherishes.

Most nations do not have an agency that governs the distribution of news, but place the matter in the hands of self-regulating organizations, he said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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