Saturday, March 10, 2018

The greatness of Twitter: a conversation with digital minister Audrey Tang


The awesome and insightful Kerim Friedman with a Twitter conversation with Taiwan's digital minister, Audrey Tang. Twitter is great for conversations like this, you can talk directly to the people you want to reach... on a topic that we foreigners have been complaining about since the introduction of computers: none of the systems used by government and major SOEs takes foreign visa numbers. Local ID numbers begin with 1 English letter, ARCs with two. A typical Taiwan ID looks like F0000000000, a foreigner one TX00000000. Many systems won't accept the latter number since you can only input 1 letter. This has been the source of much friction for us in the foreign community in Taiwan since we can't purchase stuff online or at 7-11.
@audreyt Hi, I'm a permanent resident of Taiwan, but still can't use any of the available APPs to purchase Taiwan Rail tickets online because I don't have a Taiwanese ID number. No such problem with HSR. What can be done to improve this?

Please use the web app here: …

Kerim Friedman 傅可恩@kerim
I've lived here for 12 years and take the train almost every week. I know how to use the website. What I'm asking is why I can't use a mobile app which has numerous advantages: see what trains are booked, save my information for reuse, etc. only because my ID is different?

Nor is this the only site for which this is true. There are numerous online sites in Taiwan that require a 台灣身分證 simply because the programmers have been too lazy to code to check for alternative IDs such as ARC numbers (which are formatted differently).

Kerim Friedman 傅可恩@kerim
Taiwan is much better to immigrants than many other countries, but it is one of the few countries which discriminates in this way. For privacy reasons the US won't even let you use your SSID online, but if they did, the number would be the same for foreigners and locals.

Kerim Friedman 傅可恩@kerim

Kerim Friedman 傅可恩
Getting back to 台鐵. Taiwanese can book tickets at 7-11 store using iBon, but if you don't have a 台灣身分證號碼 you can't do this as a foreigner. (Although you can print out tickets that you bought via the website.) This seems silly. 高鐵 does not have these problems.

Kerim Friedman 傅可恩@kerim
Just last week I couldn't reserve a movie ticket with a theater in Taipei because it only accepted 台灣身分證號碼! Why?

Kerim Friedman 傅可恩@kerim
I think in the past this kind of thing didn't matter so much because most migrants had a Taiwanese spouse who would do these things for them, but in my case we are both foreigners and so we are shut out from many online conveniences that only Taiwanese can take advantage of.

Indeed. For government services, at the moment this requires explicit regulatory changes ( for example recently we're expanding participants, which needed to amend … — expanding "citizens of the state" to include folks with ARCs ).

Kerim Friedman 傅可恩@kerim
Thanks for looking into this. I understand that there are some services that are restricted to citizens, but in most cases it just seems like lazy web development, since the service is (or should be) available to all.

Kerim Friedman 傅可恩@kerim
In such cases perhaps there could be incentives to fix this (akin to those for web accessibility)?

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