20131108 Privacy fears voiced over cross-strait service pact
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Privacy fears voiced over cross-strait service pact

BIG BROTHER: Taiwanese may risk becoming subject to close political scrutiny by the Chinese government if online services were to be opened up, an expert said

By Lee Yu-hsin and Jake Chung / Staff reporter, with staff writer

The opening of computer industries and online services to Chinese investment through the cross-strait service trade agreement would affect the rights of Taiwanese to access public information and pose a threat to personal information, Taiwan Association for Human Rights deputy director Chiu Wen-tsung (邱文聰) said yesterday.

Portal sites in democratic countries are centralized hubs of information from every possible field and sector, Chiu said, adding that to allow Chinese investors to operate portal sites in Taiwan, if the agreement passes the legislature, would be an act against democracy.

Companies with investment from China would work together with the Chinese government on matters of Internet information control, such as blocking certain sites by filtering key words or even placing a stop-gap on Internet information and news browsing entirely, Chiu said.

When the two nations allow each other to set up companies within their borders to manage portal sites, it will not be achievable on an equal basis, Chiu said.

He added that Taiwanese would not accept any policy that would deprive them of their freedom of speech.

Chiu added that the agreement’s opening up of the computer industry and online services would allow Chinese investors to legally obtain personal information from Taiwanese or access corporate secrets, adding that the “one-sided” Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法) would not provide a solution to any violations of it from an IP address outside of the nation’s borders.

If, for example, Chinese-invested companies start and manage a platform allowing Taiwanese to buy airplane tickets online, they would obtain, legally and in large amounts, the personal information of individuals and corporations, and forward them to China, Chiu said.

Chiu added that as China’s information protection standards are low — to the extent that corporations casually transmit data to each other — and that China has its own National Security Act and Criminal Procedural Act, as well as the “Anti-Secession Law,” if the agreement is passed by the legislature, Taiwanese would be subject to close political surveillance by the Chinese government.

The government is ensconced in its imagined safety of having information security and protection, but the truth is that if personal information left on portal sites managed by Chinese companies was misused by the Chinese, the government would be utterly without means to help victims, Chiu said.

Chiu suggested that the government sign an information rights security guarantee with China before discussing whether there is a need to open up the computer and online service industry to China.

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