November 17, 2023
Remarks by AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk
at the Opening of GCTF Workshop on “Human Rights in the Digital Age”
November 15, 2023
Control Yuan President and National Human Rights Commission Chair Chen, Digital Affairs Minister Tang, Canadian Trade Office in Taipei Executive Director Nickel, distinguished representatives and guests — I’m honored to be with you here at the Global Cooperation and Training Framework workshop on “Human Rights in the Digital Age.”
I would like to extend my special appreciation to our fellow GCTF full partners – Taiwan, Japan, and Australia – as well as implementing partners and co-hosts, including the National Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Digital Affairs, the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, and the Institute for Information Industry, for working with us to organize today’s event.
Taiwan is a cutting-edge pioneer in advancing a digital ecosystem that respects human rights, and I’m thrilled that so many of our Taiwan experts will discuss their experiences with you.
The Internet and other digital technologies can be powerful tools to transform our societies and our economies by connecting us with others, facilitating how we conduct business, and promoting citizen access to government services. However, as the classical Chinese expression says, the same water that bears the boat can also overturn it (水能載舟，亦能覆舟) – that is, technology can be a double-edged sword. When misused, such as through information control or digital surveillance tools including facial recognition, commercial spyware, or AI-enabled censorship, technology can just as easily restrict freedom as advance it.
Over the next few days, you will hear from speakers who will highlight internet policy issues pertaining to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and freedom of peaceful assembly – and how we can work together to protect these universal human rights online. You will also learn how to foster the free flow of information across borders, counter political repression, and protect those operating in repressive environments from online censorship and malicious cyber activity.
It is an honor to have distinguished speakers and participants from all over the world joining this workshop to share knowledge, challenges, and best practices. On behalf of the United States, thank you all for participating in these important discussions. I hope that the diverse viewpoints shared in the next few days inspire you in our shared quest to ensure the Internet remains a space for freedom of expression, for organizing and interaction, and for commerce.