剖析臺灣的數位不平等

活動訊息

日期:2021年6月24日(四) 14:00-16:00

主持人:

  • 吳齊殷 副所長(中央研究院社會學研究所)

與談人:

  • 何榮桂 兼任教授(國立臺灣師範大學資訊教育研究所 / 前教育部電子計算機中心主任)
  • 周宇修 會長(台灣人權促進會)
  • 須文蔚 主任(教育部邁向數位平權推動計畫推動辦公室)

主持人開場/吳齊殷副所長 【簡報下載

早期臺灣注重數位落差,當時主要議題關懷為:弱勢群體是否有數位設備可用。我們逐漸發現即使擁有這些設備,若群眾尚未具備足夠數位素養,亦無法有效使用。此外,接觸學習網路之時機亦會影響學習數位素養之機會,就此而論,當代更重要的議題是:如何使具不同數位素養能力者有同等機會邁入數位世界。 吳副所長點出,今日講堂之目的在於剖析臺灣的數位不平等,數位不平等可分為社會結構與行動兩大層面。在社會結構層面,關注議題焦點為尋求建構產業、政府和公民團體的合作關係,以改變社會中既存之不平等;於行動層面,關注焦點則聚焦於保護隱私權,及如何防止政府或企業壟斷數位資源和進行公民監控。

何榮桂教授 【簡報下載

何教授以教育的觀點切入看待數位落差,並首先點出數位不平等與數位落差的概念差異,前者指的是「主觀的限制或剝奪」,後者則是客觀現象。其中的關鍵的議題是:我們該以何種視角理解臺灣的數位不平等議題?

數位不平等的議題可追溯至網際網路初始發展之時,1986年,學者Mason提出PAPA理論,其中包括隱私權(Privacy)、正確性(Accuracy)、所有權(Property)與近用權(Accessibility)。1995年,Katz首次提出數位落差(digital divide)一詞,該概念開始受到各國重視。美國國家電信暨資訊管理局(National Telecommunications and Information Administration, NTIA)於1990年代中期開始重視數位落差,1995年起連續發布數篇相關報告,關注議題焦點也從數位落差擴展至數位包容(digital inclusion)。

數位落差不僅存在於落後國家,已開發國家亦須重視該議題,由於數位科技日新月異,每當推出新的數位產品,落差就產生,因此數位落差為一個須持續介入處理的永久議題。我國自2002年開始推動相關計畫,並在2005年開始至2015年間,系統性地推動三期跨部會偏鄉數位關懷計畫,第一期計畫重點在於縮減數位落差,第二期則聚焦於創造數位機會,第三期則強調數位關懷。而後,教育部(資訊及科技教育司)推出「邁向數位平權推動計畫(2020-2022)」,將數位平權計畫擴及原鄉、新住民、偏鄉與中小企業。何教授認為形成數位落差的原因很多,包括政策失當、決策者忽視、資源分配不均、城鄉差距、社經地位階層擴大及難以反逆之時空因素(如鄉村人口流入都市)。 最後,何教授強調,僅用KPI量化指標衡量數位落差並不恰當,舉例而言,偏鄉孩童或長者可能擁有數位設備,但可能因其數位素養不足而無法使用,數位落差議題因此仍持續存在。

周宇修 會長 【簡報下載

周會長以傳播法規的觀點看待數位落差議題,我國憲法強調對言論和出版自由的保障,民國80年,有線電視興起,保障廣電自由和通訊傳播自由的法規陸續出現。根據這些法規,政府有義務訂定規範防止資訊壟斷,並促進多元意見之表達。

周會長表示,目前我國相關立法邏輯仍是「用法律追科技」。當前法規難以回應當代科技發展,如網路言論無法適用於廣電三法;金融技術的發展也遠超過目前法規之規範範圍。另外,我國許多法規存在擁抱不明確價值與無法回應科技差別管制之問題,舉例而言,保障公共利益是大家都會接受的,但不同群體對於公共利益的想像卻有所歧異,公共利益因此淪為「不明確價值」。

周會長指出,國際組織Article 19主張的傳播權包括:多元、公平近用、實現文化自由、獲取資訊、參與公共事務與匿名及免於無故監控六大層面。此外,其他國際組織也支持普及數位工具,以目前疫情為例,身心障礙者與外籍移工仍不易使用這些設備。

從社會層面來看,數位落差議題包括:城鄉差距(例如:有線電視普及率、頻寬及遠端無法協助操作網路技術等問題)、年齡差距(例如:85歲長輩如何預約施打疫苗)、文化差距(例如:原住民、移工等)與弱勢者差距(例如:身心障礙者)。即使許多人認為進入數位世界的門檻較低,但其中仍存在許多隱性門檻,例如:未能安裝5G網路、網路中的個資侵害議題及數位市場中既有的無法議價之特性(大眾無法得知演算法運作模式,且僅有大企業才具足夠議價能力)等。

針對上述難題,周會長提出四大解決方向,如下所述:

  • 掃除進入數位市場之障礙。
  • 針對數位市場,政府須採取再管制措施。
  • 其他:GDPR、公廣集團、數位發展部、公私協力共同合作(如何有效整合資源)。
  • 須回到源頭探討隱私議題,並與資料蒐集方共同討論應如何解決該議題。

須文蔚 主任

須主任指出,我們不能僅從手機和網路普及率看待數位落差與數位平權議題。數位平權的發展與轉型涉及整體規劃,每當數位轉型被驅動,新的數位落差議題便產生。目前我國面臨的主要數位落差議題包括:數位法規調整過慢,並因此未能有效保障信用及安全;及整體政策並未因應數位發展進行系統性調整。因此,須主任認為,我國須將包容、平權與發展的概念納入數位政策之中。

數位平權不僅止於偏鄉,也應包含中高齡、原住民和新住民等弱勢群體,根據2020年IMD世界數位競爭力調查,我國排名躍升至第11名。須主任進一步分析,我國數位發展雖屬前段班,但卻因數位包容指標表現不佳而無法進入前10名,且自2013年起,我國網路整備度指數持續下滑,其中主要原因為資通訊法規相對落後及數位包容度不佳。在數位落差議題方面,性別和城鄉差距仍為我國嚴峻挑戰,在相關產業領域,我國女性任職高階主管數仍不足,或許我國可借鏡歐洲經驗,歐洲各國不僅關注女性是否有機會取得並使用數位設備,還關注男性如何對待女性。最後,文化部作為主管機關但其並未積極參與如何解決數位不平等之相關討論,我國也應思考如何透過數位傳播提升本土文化。

根據OECD國民數位福祉調查,我們屬於同時具「低數位機會」和「低數位風險」之國家,因此當務之急是提升弱勢族群之資訊素養。過去我國將關注焦點置於偏鄉,但都市中也存在數位不平等,這須中央地方共同合作加以應對。我國還須調整公部門之組織架構,須主任建議增設各部會協調機制並廣納公部門參與,各政府部門皆須檢討審視目前措施並就數位落差議題提出相關方案。舉例而言,教育部可作為創新中心;經濟部帶動中小企業數位轉型;勞動部負責規劃數位轉型與創新能力的在職訓練;文化部則應推動以臺灣文化為主的新聞內容。 要如何防止隱私侵害和政府壟斷?須主任提及,使用Facebook和Google雖然方便,但也伴隨隱私侵害、演算法控制及傷害本土內容等副作用。目前臺灣60-70%的廣告收益已被Facebook和Google取得,臺灣根本無法產製本土內容,且即使有心產製,相關內容也遭上述兩大企業免費使用。隨著演算法的發展,網路言論更為分眾化,各自陣營懷抱不同理解並彼此口誅筆伐,此種現象也已然是社會學中的重要議題。最後,由於這些科技巨頭能恣意停權帳戶,因此新型態言論自由議題應聚焦於如何限縮和管制這些企業,以保障言論自由。

須主任整理出我國面臨之三大數位不平等挑戰,如下所述:

  • 本地數位教育與臺灣本土內容之建構(缺乏具本土價值之內容)
  • 實施數位媒體素養與資訊安全教育(假訊息、隱私權)
  • 推動嶄新數位包容與數位平權政策(弱勢族群議題)

A deep dive into Taiwan’s digital inequality

Information

Date: June 24 (Thu.) 2021, 14:00-16:00(on live)

Location: Online service only

Moderator:

  • Wu, Chyi-In, Deputy Director, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica

Panelist:

  • Rong-Guey Ho, Professor (retired), Graduate Institute of Information and Computer education, National Taiwan Normal University
  • Yu-Shiou (Clarence) Chou, Chair, Taiwan Association for Human Rights
  • Shiu, Wen-Wei, Head of Digital Equality Advancement Office, Ministry of Education
 

 

Session details

According to the 2021 World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report, the COVID-19 pandemic has left societies and economies damaged, widened existing disparities within communities and between nations, and disproportionately harmed certain sectors and societal groups.

In Taiwan, the Internet use rate in rural areas is not much different than in non-rural areas, according to the Taiwan Internet Report 2020. But does this mean that Taiwan does not have the problem of digital divide? It is explained in the WEF Global Risks Report that digital inequality means fractured and/or unequal access to critical digital networks and technology due to unequal investment capabilities, lack of necessary skills in the workforce, insufficient purchase power, government restrictions and/or cultural differences. The biased algorithm embedded in social media platforms, the widening gaps between the technical haves and have-nots within and between countries, and the states’ inability to regulate, thus closing the division, can all contribute to worsening the digital inequality. In this session, we will try to understand the context, factors, and ramifications of Taiwan’s digital inequality.

Minutes

Deputy Director Wu from the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, opened the session with a brief introduction of today’s topic. In the past, digital inequality was seen as an equivalent of the digital divide. Therefore, discussions in Taiwan regarding digital inequality were solely focused on access, namely, whether the disadvantaged groups have the device to access the Internet and is the infrastructure there for them to utilize.

As the Internet infrastructure reached almost full coverage within the country, we realized that access is not the only issue when it comes to digital inequality. How do we expand the digital opportunities and ensure they are enjoyed by all, as well as the plan and operation of digital education, are now the major discussion points of digital inequality.

As the country pushes and plans to move forward with its digital development strategy, we should keep in mind that digital development should happen inclusively. During today’s discussion, Deputy Direction Wu hopes the panel can first diagnose the current digital inequality in Taiwan from their perspective, followed by suggestions of how we can act to narrow the gap. The suggestions can be directed to the state government, society, communities and organizations, or to any individual. After all, we all have an obligation to advocate and realize digital equality.

In order to facilitate the discussions, Deputy Director Wu also prepared some basic questions. The first set of questions aims to analyze the structural problems of Taiwan’s digital inequality:

  • How do we understand Taiwan’s digital inequality in addition to the statistics of Internet use rate in rural areas and non-rural areas?
  • How can the government, industry leaders and civil society collaborate to address issues derived from digital inequality without harming innovation and technology development?

The second set focuses on the action:

  • How do we prevent privacy violations in the digital environment? Namely, how do we protect privacy in the new digital society?
  • How do we prevent the government or business from monopolizing digital technologies and applying them in bad faith, i.e., developing and enforcing surveillance technologies?

Deputy Director Wu hoped that, after today’s discussion, the panel, with the audience, can come up with some viable solutions, or at least some kind of action plans, to the problems.

The first panelist was Professor Ho, who recently retired from the Graduate Institute of Information and Computer Education at National Taiwan Normal University. Prof. Ho has been a part of the Ministry of Education’s Digital Application Promotion Project in Remote Areas for decades.

Observing from his long and practical experiences in promoting digital development in the country’s rural area, Prof. Ho has developed his own definition of differentiating digital inequality and digital divide. For Prof. Ho, digital inequality means a group of people is intentionally restricted from or taken away their digital rights or access. On the other hand, digital divide is a phenomenon that can be observed objectively. In his opinion, digital inequality does not exist in Taiwan because there are no enforced laws or regulations limiting any group of people’s digital rights in the country. He made it clear, however, that this was his own made-up definition that is open to discussion.

Prof. Ho’s definition meant that he would only be sharing the digital divide he has observed over the years of participating MoE’s Digital Application Promotion Project in Remote Areas. In 1986, Richard. O. Mason identified four areas of information ethics in which the control of information is crucial:

  • Privacy

Long been considered “the right to be left alone,” privacy has been deemed difficult to satisfactorily define. Fundamentally, privacy is about protection from intrusion and information gathering by others. Typically, it has been defined in terms of individuals’ ability to personally control information about themselves.

  • Accuracy

As computers now dominate in corporate record-keeping activities, whether the information is accurate or correct becomes critically important.

  • Property

The question of intellectual property rights is one of the most complex issues society faces. IP rights raise substantial economic and ethical concerns such as unique attributes of information itself and the transmission methods. Any individual item of information can be extremely costly to produce in the first place. Yet, once produced, that information has the elusive quality of easily reproduced and sharable. On top of that, this replication can happen without destroying the original. This makes information hard to safeguard since, unlike tangible property, it becomes communicable and hard to keep to one’s self.

  • Accessibility

Accessibility, or the ability to obtain the data, is critical to any individual in modern society. Users must have physical access to online information resources, meaning they must access computational systems. Second and more important, they then must gain access to information itself.

The four areas are commonly referred to as “PAPA”. Prof. Ho considered the four areas useful metrics of assessing and understanding the digital divide in Taiwan. From his experiences, digital divide does not only exists between countries but also within countries, even within cities. He observed that eliminating the digital divide was an endless task. We have to always put in the utmost effort, but the divide will inevitably reemerge and widen as technology evolves.

According to Prof. Ho, in the early days, digital divide in Taiwan was mainly contributed by the neglect from the policymakers. The uneven distribution of resources between cities and the rural area has been a longstanding problem in the country, and the digital divide is only a new way of demonstrating this existing issue. One of the government’s more effective and realistic initiatives, Prof. Ho thought, was establishing Digital Opportunities Center (DOC) across the rural areas. He has visited many DOC during his tenure at MoE and has seen how many DOC served multiple purposes ranging from Internet Cafes, information hubs for immigrants, and after-school child-care.

Prof. Ho criticized that when implementing programs to narrow the digital divide, the administration often focused on meeting the Key Performance Indicators (KPI). He stressed that determining the digital divide by measuring the gap between the have and have-nots of digital devices has long been obsolete. It is meaningless to meet the KPI of a device per person if those who have the device don’t know how to use them. Capacity building and education are much more needed and meaningful in the rural area when it comes to the digital divide.

The second panelist was Yu-Shiou (Clarence) Cho from Taiwan Association for Human Rights. A lawyer in practice, Cho analyzed the question from a legal perspective. He started with the communication legislations in Taiwan, questioning whether lawmakers have yet caught up with the pace of technology advancement. More importantly, can the current legislation protect us from the potential harm digital technology imposes on society and its people?

He reviewed the Statement on Communication Rights of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Article 19, noting that very few existing legislation can clearly define what ‘communication right’ entails. The lack of a universal definition of communication rights creates an interpretation vacuum, leaving the law enforcement implementing the law according to their understanding and imagination of the text, ultimately leads to the inconsistent practice of the same set of regulations.

Commenting on the digital divide in Taiwan, Cho argued that we should not downplay the still-existing gap between rural and non-rural areas. Households in rural and remote areas still suffer from poor connection quality due to insufficient infrastructure. Inequality is only more pronounced when we look at the social, cultural, and linguistic disadvantages that continue to handicap children, immigrants, and the elderly—the majority of the population—in the remote and rural areas.

Sharing anecdotes from his experience working as a human rights lawyer, he noted that accessibility is a real issue and mostly because it is extremely contextual. It is almost impossible for a person to understand the pain of not be able to access something without being disabled him or herself.

Cho also touched on the broader impact digital technology has on modern society. He referenced Shoshana Zuboff, professor emerita at Harvard Business School, and her theories about surveillance capitalism, arguing that we should take the negative aspect of digital technology seriously.

Are there any tangible solutions? Cho suggested that removing the competition disadvantages the big tech has posed to its counterparts is the first step. He noted, however, that we should pay extra attention when defining the scope of regulations, tiptoeing the fine line between ensuring fair competition and curbing innovation. Regarding closing the digital divide, he suggested we rethink how to redistribute the resources and distribute tasks more evenly.

Professor Shiu has been working with the Ministry of Education to advance digital equality in Taiwan, especially in terms of education, for years. Agreeing with his fellow panelists, he was not happy with the administration’s focus on accessibility, particularly when accessibility, according to the government’s KPI, was narrowly defined as access to digital devices and Internet connection. These metrics might have been working in the early stage of digital development, but we will be losing the bigger picture if we still hold on to it.

Digital transformation is the only thing now everyone talks about, and it has also become the slogan of our government. We can not ignore, however, that digital transformation also creates a new kind of digital divide, and the disadvantaged groups could once again be left behind if we do not tackle the issues timely and correctly. He agreed the legislation is still lacking far behind the advancement of technology and was glad that more people with legal backgrounds like Cho are getting involved.

Another important point Shiu raised was that digital rights had become a human right. Historically, the Taiwanese government’s digital policies and programs have promoted digital equality as some kind of social benefit for the disadvantages. Seeing digital rights as one of the basic human rights helps us to identify gaps and blind spots that were neglected in the past; it is a critical step for our country towards true digital equality.

In his final remarks, Cho reiterated that, while all points raised during the session about digital equality and closing the digital divide were valid and insightful, and it is undeniably important that we start seeing digital rights as a fundamental human right, we have to accept that there will always a group of people in the society that will never become ‘digital.’ How to assist this group of people to live in a digital environment as conveniently as others, and with zero percent of less dignity, will be our future homework. Only when our digital society can embrace and support those who are not ‘digitalized’ can we talk about inclusiveness. This is also the true meaning of digital rights as a basic human right.