On Monday The Times reported British social media users could face a two-year prison term if they send messages or post content deemed to have caused “psychological harm” under the UK government’s draft ‘Online Safety Bill’ to tackle hate speech and abuse online. “It includes an anti-misinformation offence … In this regard, The Times reported that unnamed government sources had referenced the example of ‘anti-vaxxers spreading false information that they know to be untrue’,” RT reported.
In Taiwan, a similar law has been in place from 19 June 2019, if not earlier. The Communicable Disease Act (or Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Act) states: “Persons who disseminate rumours or incorrect information concerning epidemic conditions of communicable diseases, resulting in damages to the public or others, shall be fined up to NT$ 3,000,000 [approx. GBP79,000].”
Taiwan seems to be putting these “misinformation” laws into practice.
On 12 October, the United Daily Newspaper (“UDN”) reported that on 24 July 2021 Li, a man from Taichung City in central Taiwan, posted on Facebook “Taiwan’s death has been vaccinated. Break-through 700 cases.” Some netizens reported his post as “false” to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Police charged Li with violating the Social Order Maintenance Act.
During a brief trial Li admitted that he made the post on Facebook. But, he argued, all vaccines generally take 7 to 10 years to develop and there were ingredients in the injections that may be harmful. He said he believed that there were doubts about using the new Covid injections in the human body. In addition, he argued, he found some of the information about people who died from the new Covid injections online and had then shared it.
According to a document from the Central Epidemic Command Center (“CECC”), as of 2 August there had been 548 suspected deaths from Covid injections but their “summary was not clinically complete.” The judge noted that although the death toll as per Li’s Facebook post did not match that of the CECC there was no “huge difference.” The judge also pointed out that the CECC’s document stated “this summary is not clinically complete information, nor is it a clinical review. It is only a limited summary of information notified” and, obviously, the CECC cannot fully analyse and correctly indicate the actual number of deaths.
The judge determined Li’s argument was, that after searching for relevant information Li believed that the information was correct before posting it on the Internet. And so, it cannot be found that Li was deliberately fabricating false rumours for dissemination. Li’s case was dismissed.
The UDN article is in Taiwanese so we have used Google to translate it and attached it below.
As of 28 October, there had been 982 post-injection deaths reported to the CDC’s ‘Notification of Adverse Events’, Taiwan’s equivalent of VAERS (USA) or Yellow Card (UK) reporting systems. Almost 300 more than Li had posted on Facebook three months prior and then was charged for disseminating misinformation.
According to The Times, the plans for UK’s Online Safety Bill have been sent to the cabinet for approval and UK Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries, is expected to add them to the bill when it is introduced to Parliament next month. Could those who speak out against the UK Government’s Covid, or other, propaganda be subjected to similar harassment if the Bill is passed?
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