The National Communications Commission on June 29 passed the draft digital intermediary service act (數位中介服務法草案), and has since held three public briefings on it.
The draft has raised concerns that it would not only fall short of its objectives of reining in the world’s technology giants, but that it would also hobble the nation’s booming digital industry.
The Cabinet was eventually left with little alternative but to postpone the introduction of the law.
The unregulated anarchy of the Internet is problematic, especially now that a large number of Internet news media are disseminating defamation or threats as clickbait, essentially making them complicit in promoting cyberbullying.
The creation of online disinformation and Internet rumormongering every time an opportunity to manipulate public opinion presents itself is pernicious and endangers social stability.
Everyone should have the right to the freedom of opinion and expression, but should bear in mind that freedom of speech does not protect fictional sources. One thing must also be clear: The purpose of controlling fake news is to safeguard the rights and interests of the public, it is not about protecting the rights and interests of certain large enterprises.
Even the US, where democracy and freedom are put on a pedestal, regulates the Internet. This control operates through a complex set of private mediation mechanisms that are legally binding. Other countries, too, such as the UK, Germany and France, continue to promote legislation against harmful or hate speech.
Is Taiwan really going to shy away from regulating unlawful speech or monitoring transnational digital platforms for fear of incurring suspicions that freedom of speech is being curtailed and of censorship?
Wei Si-yuan works in the information technology industry.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
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