Personal data being sent to Beijing, legislator says

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Aug 15, 2013 - Page 3

The personal information of millions of Taiwanese smartphone users who have installed Chinese applications could be sent to Beijing, a lawmaker warned yesterday, demanding that the government to ban public servants from using Chinese-designed apps.

Chinese smartphone and Web applications WeChat, QQ, Weibo, Taobao and Alipay — social media and e-commerce platforms that are popular in Taiwan — are required by Chinese laws to send personal information and user-generated content back to servers in China for security checks and for content to be filtered, DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a press conference.

Chinese telecommunication laws require Internet service providers to store and report content which “jeopardizes national security and unification,” among others things, to the authority.

“More than 6 million Taiwanese users of mobile text and voice messaging communication service WeChat, developed by China’s Tencent and registered in Taiwan as a Hong Kong company with Chinese investment, have been monitored by Beijing,” Chen said.

While US Internet service provider Yahoo succumbed to Beijing’s pressure and provided the personal information of four Chinese dissidents to Beijing in 2006, he said, Wikipedia and online search engine service provider Google both refuse to be monitored by China.

Additionally, Chinese companies’ practices have violated the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法), he said.

“The government should make a decision on whether it’s keen on protecting Taiwanese people’s privacy,” he added.

Chen said the government should prohibit public servants from using Chinese-designed software and demand that service providers notify users about how their personal information is to be handled.