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Taiwan government subverts Internet Search Results to favour nuclear energy

exclamation-flag-TaiwanTaiwanese Government Alters Search Results to Favor Nuclear Energy Policy Global Voices Advocacy,  by Oiwan Lam   14 August 2013 For several months, activists in Taiwan fighting to prevent the launch of operations at a nuclear plant they argue would be hazardous for public health and the natural environment. Alongside mobilizing public support and lobbying government officials, they are now facing a new challenge: search engine censorship. Over the last few days, searches run on Yahoo! Kimo for the names of various anti-nuclear activists have yielded links to Nuclear Safety, Taiwan Energy [zh], a website run by the Bureau of Energy and Ministry of Economic Affairs, as their top result.

text-nuclear-uranium-liesYesterday, the Ministry of Economic Affairs admitted to Taiwan Apple Daily [zh] that the government had spent 100,000 Taiwanese Yuan (equivalent to USD3500) to alter the search results for 92 keywords on Google and Yahoo! Kimo, the country’s most popular search engine. Among the 92 keywords, 63 are related to nuclear energy and 29 are the names of individuals, many of whom are anti-nuclear activists.

The website Nuclear Safety, Taiwan Energy presents scientific evidence aimed at convincing the public that nuclear energy is safe and the island’s fourth nuclear plant meets international safety standards…………

Government interference with Internet search results will likely have an impact on the upcoming referendum. Liu Li’er (劉黎兒), one of the anti-nuclear activists who was affected by the government’s political advertisement issued a public statement [zh] on August 13 via Facebook condemning the Ministry of Economic Affairs for using “brainwashing” tactics and demanding the Legislative body investigate the use of taxpayers’ money to generate political propaganda. She also urged portal websites to uphold their corporate social responsibility and reject government-sponsored ads promoting the benefits of nuclear energy.

Soon after the news was exposed, Yahoo! Kimo ceased tampering with the search results of individuals’ names as it may infringe on the rights and interests of those involved. However,when people search the term “anti-nuclear”, the top search is still linked to the same government-run pro-nuclear energy development site.


August 16, 2013 - Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, Taiwan

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