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Government bashed for handling of child sexual abuse images

04/16/2024 01:10 PM
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Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (left) responds to criticism of the ministry's dealing with the "Chuangyi Sifang" child sexual abuse case at a legislative committee hearing Monday. CNA photo April 15, 2024
Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (left) responds to criticism of the ministry's dealing with the "Chuangyi Sifang" child sexual abuse case at a legislative committee hearing Monday. CNA photo April 15, 2024

Taipei, April 16 (CNA) Legislators bashed the government on Monday for its failure to halt the spread of images of minors and secretly filmed content and its slow response to cases involving voyeurism and sexual exploitation.

Sparking the criticism was the high profile case of television presenter Mickey Huang (黃子佼) allegedly possessing child sexual abuse videos.

During raids on Huang's residence and studio last year following accusations that Huang engaged in rape, police seized seven sexually explicit videos involving minors from Huang's hard drive.

According to various local media reports, Huang purchased those videos between Aug. 8, 2017, and July 8, 2023 from "Chuangyi Sifang" (創意私房), an online platform known for illegal images featuring both secret photographs and child pornography.

At a legislative committee hearing Monday, opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Tu Chuan-chi (涂權吉) said prosecutors indicted individuals as far back as January 2022 on voyeurism and sexual exploitation charges for sharing illegal content on "Chuangyi Sifang."

The Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA), however, only ordered the Taiwan Network Information Center to cut access to the platform by blocking its domain after receiving an administrative order from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) on April 10 this year, Tu said.

Criticizing the MOHW for its slow response, Tu said the ministry allowed "Chuangyi Sifang" to exist for 818 days after the initial indictment, prolonging the circulation of illegal images on the internet and the suffering of the victims for an additional 818 days.

Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) responded that the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act was amended in 2023, and legal provisions in force 818 days ago were different from those in effect now.

Hsueh did not say what those differences were, however, or how they would have affected the ministry's actions.

He also argued that carrying out an administrative order without adhering to regulations posed legal risks, and said the move was made as "a last resort, not the result of negligence," again without elaborating.

KMT Legislator Wang Yu-min (王育敏) noted that even now that the "Chuangyi Sifang" domain has been blocked, domestic users can still access it by using VPNs because Chuangyi Sifang is based overseas.

Vicky Tseng (曾文方), the deputy director general of MODA's Department of Resource Management, responded that blocking the domain was the quickest way to prevent netizens from accessing the platform but acknowledged that VPNs could still get around that barrier.

She said there were no regulations in Taiwan governing the use of VPNs, and that Taiwan, as a country that champions freedom of speech, cannot set up a "Great Firewall" such as the one in China.

Hsueh suggested that lawmakers follow four major directions as it considers revising laws related to illegal content.

They include increasing penalties for individuals involved with websites featuring illegal content, simplifying the process for blocking the domains of those websites, and holding individuals who pay to view sexual images of minors criminally liable.

The government also wants to have the power to proactively search for suspicious websites and investigate the cash flows of websites with illegal content, Hsueh said.

(By Sunny Lai)


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