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Minister of Digital Affairs Ms. Audrey Tang was Invited to the French National Assembly for a Hearing to Share Taiwan’s Experience in Digital Resilience against Foreign Interference

The Minister of Digital Affairs, Ms. Audrey Tang, was invited to the Investigative Committee on Foreign Interference of the French National Assembly today (12th) for an online video hearing to share Taiwan’s experience in combating foreign digital interference through digital resilience. Minister Tang said that Taiwan is a member of the international community and is one of the top international hotspots for information security attacks that seek to undermine public trust in the democratic system, and that the situation in Taiwan is not an isolated case, nor is it unrelated to Europe. The world has witnessed the significant impact of cyberwarfare, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine being an explicit example.

The hearing will be held at around 8:00 p.m. Taipei time this evening and will last for more than an hour. The entire hearing will be webcast live, with a 10-minute presentation by Minister Tang followed by questions from the Assembly’s president and legislators. The content of the hearing will be available to the public on the official website of the French National Assembly.

During the hearing, Minister Tang said that Taiwan is an important partner in global digital democracy, and is at the front line of the democratic camp facing the expansion of the authoritarian system, confronting the threat of numerous cyberattacks from abroad. For example, the number of hackers’ attacks against Taiwan’s government through information security loopholes increased by nearly two times in 2022 compared to 2021; moreover, when then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in 2022, Taiwan was subjected to 23 times the usual number of overseas cyberattacks, and electronic signage was altered by hackers to hate messages. These cyberattacks attempted to undermine public trust in the democratic system but were unsuccessful.

Minister Tang pointed out that the situation in Taiwan is not an isolated incident, nor is it unrelated to Europe. The world has seen the growing impact of cyberwarfare, and a notable example was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Taiwan, as a member of the democratic camp, empathizes with those threatened by authoritarian expansionism and did not hesitate to lend a helping hand to Ukraine, and France, as an important country in Europe and the democratic camp, believes that the attitude displayed is an important signal to the world.

Minister Tang said that totalitarian regimes use technology to consolidate power and redefine online norms, manipulating the Internet to control and polarize digital communities. Taiwan has established the Ministry of Digital Affairs (moda) with the core goal of achieving “digital resilience for all” as a response. The moda organizes the information security resources of public sectors and non-governmental organizations and carries out offensive and defensive drills, in order to ensure the effective operation of critical infrastructure in emergencies. In addition, the moda promotes a zero-trust mechanism of “never trust, always verify,” the adoption of the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) for official networks and the joint defense of the global community, and the verification of the feasibility of using non-synchronous orbital satellites for emergency backup communication networks, all with the aim of enhancing Taiwan’s digital resilience and strengthening its links with its democratic partners.

Minister Tang called on all sectors to join Taiwan in its pursuit of digital resilience and to demonstrate the resilience of democracy to the world. Last April, on behalf of Taiwan, she signed A Declaration for the Future of the Internet with representatives of more than 60 countries, including France, which refers to value-based cooperation among countries with similar philosophies and a shared commitment to make the Internet a resilient construction that protects human rights, freedom, and mutual trust.

During the hearing, the French legislators were concerned about how Taiwan would respond to the concentration of power that might result from the rapid development of generative AI, and Minister Tang explained that our country has worked closely with the international open-source community and is therefore able to respond quickly to emerging changes in technology. For example, the French government has invested in training the open-source language model BLOOM, which has become the basis for the development of related technologies in Taiwan, and shows the importance of public code when democratic camps cooperate to face challenges.

Furthermore, the French legislators were also concerned about how Taiwan could respond to the problem of totalitarian camps taking advantage of the freedom of speech in democratic countries to create dissent and divisions through the algorithms of cross-border digital platforms before same-sex marriage is legalized. Minister Tang pointed out that these foreign forces are not simply “anti-homosexual” or “pro-homosexual” but take the opportunity to amplify confrontation and polarize social speech. Taiwan’s civil society has therefore requested that social media platforms such as Facebook do not accept advertisements involving political and social issues from foreign forces before general elections or referendums, and that the source of funding for such advertisements in Taiwan be disclosed in order to avoid manipulation of speech and intensification of confrontation by those with an axe to grind.

On December 6th, 2022, the French National Assembly approved the establishment of the Investigative Committee on Foreign Interference to investigate political, economic, and financial attempts by foreign governments, organizations, businesses, interest groups, and individuals to influence or bribe French opinion leaders, leadership, or political parties. Jean-Philippe Tanguy, a member of the National Assembly of the Union Nationale caucus, is the chairman of the investigative committee, and Constance Le Grip, a member of the Renaissance caucus, is the rapporteur.

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