During the National Day holiday, I took a personal trip to Kyoto, Japan, for the United Nations Internet Governance Forum. Established in 2006, the IGF has been the U.N.’s primary conference on digital policy. This year, it attracted over 6,000 attendees from 178 countries.

The first session I joined was “DFI: Principles to Action.” Representing Taiwan in April 2022, during my tenure as minister without portfolio, I signed the DFI alongside representatives from more than 60 countries. Together, we pledged to shape the internet as a resilient platform that upholds freedom, human rights and mutual trust.

During group discussions, my colleagues from the National Institute of Cyber Security and I, both virtually and in person, joined the government subgroup. We shared strategies to prevent the internet from falling prey to authoritarian regimes. Among attendees, concerns about the risks posed by AI were paramount.

Recently, U.S. think tank Freedom House published its annual “Freedom on the Net” report, showing that while AI brings rapid development and convenience, it also unlocks the potential for totalitarian surveillance and misinformation. This finding dovetails with the decline of global internet freedom for 13 consecutive years.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Kishida of Japan mentioned in his speech that, based on the consensus from the G7 Hiroshima Summit in May, Japan will lead discussions on the “Hiroshima AI Process.” This initiative invites stakeholders from industry, government, academia and society worldwide to ensure trustworthy AI.

Building digital trust is an urgent task for governments and vital for the survival of the digital industry. During my stay in Kyoto, I met with Nick Clegg, president of Meta’s Global Affairs, to discuss the rampant growth of AI-enhanced foreign information manipulation. He expressed candid concerns that if the scale becomes too much for even Facebook’s current third-party fact-checking program, it will pose a significant threat to the integrity of online information.

Clegg’s concerns are valid. In a world where face-to-face interaction is often not possible, mutual trust becomes the bedrock of digital interaction. This is essential for community collaboration and transactions.

I am proud to say Taiwan ranked first in the Asia-Pacific region in the latest “Freedom on the Net” report. In my view, this achievement reflects our prioritization of digital trust as a foundational pillar.

“Information Integrity” is the cornerstone of trust, whether it’s identifying an individual, an organization, or a document. Ensuring clear identification of entities in the digital realm is the first step towards building mutual trust.

From the “Government URL Shortener” service to the establishment of the “AI Product and System Testing and Certification Center” and amendments to the “Cyber Security Management Act” and “Electronic Signature Act,” we have consistently enhanced our digital trust infrastructure over the past year. We are now collaborating with telecom providers to create the “111” government-exclusive SMS platform. This ensures that government agency messages cannot be spoofed, offering stronger protection for information integrity.

While in Kyoto, many new friends approached me, expressing high regard for Taiwan’s digital democracy. This reinforced my belief that in the online world, there are no geographical distances, only proximity of values. We will continue to harness trust technologies, joining with democratic partners in the digital realm.