The results of an opinion poll on the controversial Digital Services Intermediary Act were released on Aug. 31. Over 60 percent of respondents opposed the inclusion of social media platforms in the draft bill and granting the government greater oversight. Meanwhile, over 50 percent worry the government will add warnings to unfavorable online messages.
The draft bill for the Digital Services Intermediary Act has proven to be extremely controversial. The Foundation for the People, whose chairperson is KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang, recently conducted an opinion poll on the act. One question that was asked was if respondents agree with the inclusion of social media platforms in the act, thereby granting the government greater oversight. Thirty-three percent agreed and 63.5 percent disagreed. Another question asked respondents about the provision that the government can ask online media outlets to add warnings to online content it determines is untrue, asking if they have concerns that the government may take advantage of this provision to add warnings to anything that is unfavorable to it to evade public scrutiny. Fifty-four percent had concerns, while 42.5 percent did not. Some scholars said the results show the public has concerns about the act violating the right to freedom of speech.
Liao Yuan-hao, Associate Professor, College of Law, NCCU: “We Taiwanese people are already very used to having freedom of speech. Now, you're suddenly telling us that you're going to control online content, and you can do so because you're the government. You can slap on warnings, you can ask for content to be removed. Everyone's going to think, does this mean I can't criticize anything in the future?”
The DPP's legislative caucus insisted that this draft bill was still in the public hearing stage and the National Communications Commission was listening to everyone's opinions. The government then provided an explanation and the NCC will not continue promoting it.
Huang Shih-chieh, Deputy Secretary-General, DPP Legislative Caucus: “Those people who are victims of scammers and those people who have had their intimate images disseminated are actually those we are trying to protect with this law. Of course we will ensure that the law won't be abused and won't be used to excessively encroach on freedom of speech and even the freedom of creation. In fact, there is still room for discussion on all of this.”
The DPP said how to ensure freedom of speech while combating cybercrimes requires everyone's input.