Thu, Dec 13, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet posts video outlining upcoming legislative changes

By William Hetherington  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Minister Without Portfolio Lo Ping-cheng addresses a news conference in Taipei on Monday.

Photo: Chen Yu-fu, Taipei Times

The Executive Yuan yesterday posted a video in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) on its Facebook page explaining planned legislative amendments to address the spread of disinformation.

The Cabinet called on social media platform operators to regulate the dissemination of disinformation by their users, saying that tomorrow it is to meet to discuss its own measures, including amendments to more than 10 laws.

Current laws to prevent the spread of rumors and disinformation are not clear enough and fail to adequately describe legal responsibility, which is what the planned amendments would address, Minister Without Portfolio Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) says in the video.

Article 63 of the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which stipulates that “spreading rumors in a way that is sufficient to undermine public order and peace” is punishable by up to three days in jail or a fine of up to NT$30,000, should be amended to remove the clause allowing detention and to revise the fine, Lo says.

“The public has freedom of speech, but the government must not allow people to make and spread false statements that harm society and individuals,” he says.

The government would not limit free speech in the fight against fake news, which would only cause more losses than gains, he adds.

The Legislative Yuan would not define illegal expression in any amendments, but would instead let courts independently rule on such matters, Lo says.

A draft digital communications law to better define the responsibilities of platform operators has already been sent to the legislature and is under review, he says.

The bill stipulates that platform operators are not obliged to supervise users’ posts, but they must cooperate with the government, he says, adding that they should have a mechanism in place to regulate posts that are “inappropriate” or break the law.

“The government’s fight against fake news does not mean we want to be the enemy. The government is the partner of the media and social media,” he adds.

That draft act would not be on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting, he says, adding that the Cabinet would gather feedback on it for discussion at a later date.

The issue of disinformation needs to be approached from a number of angles and the law is only one aspect, he adds.

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