Taiwan joins U.S.-led initiative to counter 'digital authoritarianism'

04/29/2022 02:41 PM
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Photo courtesy of MOFA. April 29, 2022
Photo courtesy of MOFA. April 29, 2022

Taipei, April 29 (CNA) Taiwan on Thursday joined dozens of countries in signing a declaration led by the United States to promote a free and open internet and counter "rising digital authoritarianism."

On behalf of Taiwan's government, Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) attended a ceremony virtually held at the White House Thursday and signed the Declaration for the Future of the Internet launched by the United States the same day.

Other signatories include Australia, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission.

Tang later took to social media to say that it remained an urgent task for democratic nations to build an internet environment where economic and social development is encouraged and democratic values and individual rights are protected.

Taiwan can contribute to the task taken on by the declaration's signatories, Tang added.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the country's participation in the initiative was the latest example of the close partnership between Taiwan and the U.S. and the U.S.' support for Taiwan's engagement in international affairs.

MOFA also said in its statement that Taiwan would continue working with like-minded countries to contribute to efforts to tackle global challenges.

According to a statement issued by the White House, 60 countries have endorsed the declaration that aims to "support a future for the Internet that is an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure" and "affirm our commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online and across the digital ecosystem."

Through this initiative, the U.S. and its partners will work to tackle what they described as "rising digital authoritarianism," the statement said, noting that some states had acted to repress freedom of expression, censor independent news sites, interfere with elections, promote disinformation, and deny their citizens other human rights.

Signatories are committed to protecting human rights and the fundamental freedoms of all people while strengthening a multistakeholder approach to governance that keeps the internet running for the benefit of all, the statement said.

In addition, countries that backed the declaration agreed to promote a global internet that advances the free flow of information, trust in the global digital ecosystem, including through protection of privacy, the statement said.

They will also strive to advance inclusive and affordable connectivity so that all people can benefit from the digital economy, the statement added.

Commenting on the declaration, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said in a separate statement that "the future of the internet is also the future of democracy, of humankind."

"Like-minded countries from all over the world are setting out a shared vision for the future of the internet, to make sure that the values we hold true offline are also protected online, to make the internet a safe place and trusted space for everyone, and to ensure that the internet serves our individual freedom," she added.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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