Insights from Germany: Fighting Misinformation

In the digital age, false and misleading information can spread to millions instantly and manipulate public opinion. The issue of misinformation or fake news has preoccupied policymakers around the world, especially when it comes to elections.

To help enhance understanding of the issue, AmCham Taipei invited experts to explain different approaches to combating misinformation at a forum entitled, “Tackling Misinformation – Lessons Learned from Germany and Path Forward for Taiwan.” Dr. Ting-Chi Liu, Associate Professor of Law at National Chengchi University, and Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, Director of the Hans-Bredow-Institut for Media Research and Professor of Law at the Universität Hamburg, discussed the legal approaches in Taiwan and Germany to dealing with misinformation and shared their insights on this important matter. Special guests that attended the event were legislators Karen Yu and Lee-Li Feng.

Opening the session at the Chamber’s Lincoln Room on February 21, Liu explained the status of freedom of expression in Taiwan and platform liability under proposed draft legislation. He noted the three elements of punishable misinformation according to the Executive Yuan: 1) malice; 2) falsity; and 3) harm.

Schulz gave examples of incidents that led to the German NetzDG (Network Enforcement Act). He explained the regulatory concept behind the law and its importance, as many big players in the tech industry with operations in Germany have recently been affected by NetzDG.

As Taiwan will likely continue to refer to NetzDG in the near future, Schulz highlighted some of the criticisms of the law made by academics and industry experts:

  • Difficulty defining the scope of “Big Social Media Networks”
  • Creation of incentives for overblocking, as take-down is the easiest option for platform providers
  • Lack of technical means for taking the proper context into account
  • Impact on free speech as companies will try to avoid fines

What will be the best approach for the handling of misinformation in Taiwan? Perhaps a 360-degree approach for a more open communication among the authorities, private sector, and the public could strike a good balance between self-regulation and regulation. The event ended with a panel discussion moderated by Jo-Fan Yu, Partner at Baker & McKenzie. Joining the discussion were Dr. Ting-Chi Liu, Dr. Wolfgang Schulz, and legislators Karen Yu and Lee Li-Feng.

 

 

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