The nation needs to deal with new forms of digital crimes by providing law enforcement agencies with tools powered by new technologies, a Ministry of Justice (MOJ) official said yesterday in defense of a draft “technological investigation act.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members and some legal experts have condemned the draft act as going backward and infringing on personal privacy rights.
The KMT caucus in a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei called on its members to block the draft act, saying that the government is heading for authoritarian rule and is violating the basic rights of its citizens.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
The proposed law could also be used as a tool for political persecution, it said.
“We are worried about pervasive surveillance of interpersonal communications. People will live under constant surveillance by the government’s judicial agencies. We believe there is no need for this draft act,” KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said.
“The limitations must be defined clearly, even on investigating criminal cases, and the main principle should be minimal infringement of personal privacy,” Judicial Reform Foundation chairman Joseph Lin (林永頌) said.
The goals for the draft act can be achieved by amending the Communication Security and Surveillance Act (通訊保障及監察法), he added.
Department of Prosecutorial Affairs Deputy Director Lee Hao-sung (李濠松) told the news conference that the draft act is needed to keep up with new technologies.
“We can review its provisions and make adjustments, as our ministry has the obligation to consult with the public, in line with the government’s insistence on openness and transparency,” Lee said.
“The draft act is aimed at criminals. It is not to be used on the general public, nor will it be used in investigating political cases,” he said.
“We have to deal with new forms of digital crimes in cyberspace, so we need new ways of investigation,” Lee said.
He cited a case from 2017 in which a Coast Guard Administration official installed a GPS tracking device on a boat to investigate allegations of drug smuggling, but was sued by the defendants.
The Supreme Court eventually convicted the official for violating personal privacy, he added.
“It has been found that most of the communications for selling illegal drugs are done through [the messaging app] Line,” Lee said. “However, Line Corp is an Internet service company, not a telecom, and does not have telecommunications hardware equipment on which to install a wiretap. Therefore, under current law, judicial investigators are not permitted to listen in on Line conversations, or see its content.”
“Under the draft act, our ministry would assess varying needs for surveillance. In cases involving lesser infringements of privacy, we could authorize prosecutors for an investigation. For those with more severe infringements, we would need to obtain approval from a court,” he said.
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