The organizational structure of the government must be updated in response to social, political and economic changes so it can lead society to keep up with the trends of the time.
Now that the Internet has developed into a major social sphere, and digital technology is an inseparable part of industry and society, the Executive Yuan’s decision to establish a digital development ministry is necessary and correct.
The opportunities, effects and challenges posed by digital technology cannot be ignored. Take information security as an example: Last month, Acer was reportedly hacked and faced a NT$1.4 billion (US$49.07 million) ransom demand. Last year, major technology companies such as Compal Electronics and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co were also hacked and faced huge ransom demands.
Although these companies might not have paid the ransom, their confidential data were leaked. The government needs a dedicated unit to help companies deal with the information security challenges posed by hackers and to improve Taiwan’s information security.
The issue is not limited to the private sector’s data security against hackers and ransomware, government sector data security is even more important.
In the face of attacks and strategic infiltration by China’s “hacker army,” the government should take immediate action to protect public sector data.
In addition, it is of key importance to cultivate the development of Taiwan’s cybersociety to prevent China from recruiting and training Taiwanese to strategically influence Taiwan’s online public opinion, and spread fake news and rumors.
In addition, e-government is key to strengthening governance.
However, organization of information departments at all levels of government are insufficiently funded and integrated, which makes it impossible for them to support the development of e-government.
A digital development ministry would be able to initiate and lead the information departments at ministries and agencies to accelerate the development of e-government so that the departments can drive and facilitate government reinvention and efficiency improvements.
In the course of their daily operations, the government and the public and private sectors collect and maintain data. Used properly, these data can benefit the public and industrial development.
In the past few years, the government has made great efforts to make data available for the public, and Taiwan ranks among the top countries in the world in this respect.
The non-governmental organization Open Data Alliance is also promoting data openness, and it has organized many competitions on creative applications of open data.
The outcome of these competitions have been applied and integrated into our daily lives.
A government information openness unit, which is planned under the digital development ministry, would push government agencies to continue to open their data to the public, and encourage the private sector to follow suit to facilitate value-added application of data.
This would be a great help to the development of a data economy.
The borderless nature of the Internet has brought many opportunities and made life more convenient, but it has also spawned issues concerning how the Internet industry operates.
Regulating local and multinational Internet businesses and improving the development of Taiwan’s Internet sector would be the responsibility of the digital development ministry.
For example, on social networking sites, trading disputes and landing page advertisement fraud are common, but they cannot be resolved due to the passive way such issues are handled by the platforms.
The police can intervene and investigate only when criminal activity occurs, and many cases go unreported.
All this has contributed to lawlessness and chaos on the Internet. Regulations to prevent such chaos are key to the sound development of the industry.
In addition, Web sites with sub-quality content and incorrect information abound online.
A comprehensive system is key to solving this problem. The development of a digital industry does not just make the prevention of irregularities necessary, it also opens the possibility to create profit, and all this requires a dedicated unit to be in charge.
Using the Internet to replace physical communication and improve efficiency has become a necessity in today’s society. The establishment of a digital development ministry is justifiable.
Hopefully the government and opposition will work together to complete the organizational planning and legislation for the ministry as soon as possible, and provide sufficient personnel and resources so that Taiwan’s digital development can be transformed and the digital industry can become another sector consolidating Taiwan’s global importance.
Wang Chih-chien is a distinguished professor at National Taipei University’s Graduate Institute of Information Management.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
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