Taiwan's legislature passes amendment banning disinformation about animal diseases

People spreading misleading rumors about animal diseases liable to heavy fine

Pigs. (Pixabay photo)

Pigs. (Pixabay photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s legislature on Tuesday (Dec. 3) passed amendments intended to regulate e-commerce platforms selling quarantined products and to curb the spread of rumors regarding animal diseases.

Drafted and proposed by the Council of Agriculture (COA) in June, the amendments to the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease passed their third reading in the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday morning.

The amendments stipulate that e-commerce platforms and retailers involved in the sale of imported products that are subject to quarantine should disclose their information to authorities. They would also be required to add quarantine warnings to their websites and remove products that are non-compliant with regulations. Violators of the above-mentioned stipulations face a fine of between NT$3,000 (US$975) and NT$150,000.

The amendments specify what constitutes the dissemination of rumors and disinformation about animal diseases, for which perpetrators are liable to a fine of up to NT$1 million. The newly added Article 10-2 forbids anyone from spreading information about animal diseases that is fabricated, manipulated, or misrepresented with the intention to mislead and thus bring harm to an individual or the public.

The amendments also state that government agencies should announce the status of overseas animal diseases and take precautionary or emergency measures to prevent them from entering Taiwan. These could include the prohibition of imports or the enforcement of a quarantine process.

In addition, notices from government agencies, such as the risk classification of certain diseases, should align with those of the World Organisation for Animal Health and international norms. This would improve the efficiency of risk management and facilitate international trade, according to the COA.