New Internet Content Regulation Enacted: The Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act and the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act

To deter and punish the dissemination of sexually exploitative content and protect the rights of sexually exploited victims, on March 10 2022, the Executive Yuan approved the proposedamendments to the Criminal Code (刑法), the Crime Victims Protection Act (犯罪被害人權益保障法), the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act (兒童及少年性剝削防制條例) and the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act (性侵害犯罪防治法) (collectively, the “Anti-Sexual Exploitation Laws”) to be referred to the legislature for readings. On January 7, 2023, the newly added chapter “Offenses against Sexual Privacy and False Sexual Images” of the Criminal Code and amendment to the Crime Victims Protection Act (犯罪被害人權益保障法) passed the third reading and thereafter, on January 10, 2023, the amendments to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act and the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act have also passed the third reading of the legislature. Henceforth, Anti-Sexual Exploitation Laws have finally become applicable and enforceable.

In particular, the amendment to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act and the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act provide the legal basis for enforcing the takedown obligations of illegal sexual content. According to the said amendments, upon being notified by the Institute of Watch Internet Network, the competent authorities, the police and/or other authorities of suspected sexual assault/exploitation content, Internet platform providers (網際網路平台提供者), Internet access service providers (網際網路接取服務提供者) and/or application service providers (網際網路應用服務提供者) (collectively, the “ISP”) shall suspend the access to or remove such illegal content (the “Takedown Obligations”). In addition, to assist law enforcement authorities in their investigations, the ISP shall preserve relevant data on the web pages pertaining to the suspected illegal actions/material for 180 days. A fine of between NT$60,000 and NT$600,000 may be imposed on the ISP for failure to comply with the Takedown Obligations without a reasonable cause. Consecutive punishments may be imposed if the violator fails to take any corrective measure within a designated period; moreover, the competent authority may restrict the public’s access to the web pages maintained by the violator.

Given that the Takedown Obligations will take effect within six months after the promulgation of the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act and the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act, the Ministry of the Health and Welfare will further formulate the relevant sub-regulations and collaborate with the ISP in order to implement the Takedown Obligations in a technically feasible manner.