Fri, Oct 19, 2018 - Page 3 News List

No proof of Chinese microchips in devices, NCC says

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The government has yet to find any communications device that has been implanted with a Chinese microchip, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday, adding that the government has established an Internet of Things (IoT) laboratory to enhance device inspections.

The commission was scheduled to brief the legislature’s Transportation Committee about how the Telecommunications Technology Center (TTC) and Taiwan Network Information Center — two units under the commission — implemented their budgets for fiscal 2018.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) and Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), citing a Bloomberg report earlier this month, said that the Chinese military is capable of producing a microchip as small as a sharpened pencil tip.

The chip can be planted into server motherboards and is able to change the core operating system, the report said, adding that the chip could contact attackers’ computers for further instructions and code.

Hsiao asked if the TTC, which is in charge of inspecting and certifying specifications for smartphones, telecom facilities and electronics, has verified the information in the report.

She said she was also concerned that the microchip would compromise the quality of communication device components produced by Taiwanese manufacturers, which are part of the global supply chain.

Although Google, Amazon and Apple have all denied any security breaches, the commission should address these issues and should not wait for the big corporations to make statements, Hsiao said.

NCC Chairwoman Nicole Chan (詹婷怡) said that the commission has consulted experts, who did not completely dismiss the possibility that such a chip could be implanted in devices.

However, they added that there has yet to be any test in the world that proves that a microchip could perform those tasks, Chan said.

For national security reasons, the government has already banned telecoms from acquiring telecom systems produced by Chinese manufacturers, Chan said.

TTC Chairman Lee Hahn-ming (李漢銘) said that the center is seeking to verify the information in the Bloomberg report through private channels, adding that the TTC has an IoT laboratory that handles information security issues.

The lab has randomly selected devices sold in the market and so far has not found any microchips, but research would continue, he said.

In other news, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said that the NCC should be able to shut down Web sites spreading fake news, and the nation needs legislation to handle issues caused by false information.

The German Network Enforcement Law requires social networks to take down hate speech within 24 hours of notification, while judges in France can order a takedown of any untruthful information online during political campaigns, Yeh said.

The French government can also suspend broadcast or publication of foreign media if it is proven that they are attempting to interfere in elections, she said.

The commission requires television and radio news stations to verify information before broadcasting it, particularly when they cite information gathered online, Chan said.

However, the problems caused by false news should not be handled by the NCC alone, she said.

“If a government agency deems that certain content has contravened a law, we will certainly cooperate. However, the commission, as regulator of telecoms and broadcast media, does not censor content and has no right to decide what statements should be taken down or if an IP address should be blocked,” Chan said.

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