Audrey Tang

Digital Minister at Taiwan

Digital Minister, Taiwan

Audrey Tang is a Taiwanese free software programmer and minister without portfolio of Taiwan, who has been described as one of the "ten greatest Taiwanese computing personalities". In August 2016, Tang was invited to join the Taiwan Executive Yuan as a minister without portfolio, making him the first transgender and the first non-binary official in the top executive cabinet.

Tang became involved in politics during Taiwan's 2014 Sunflower Student Movement demonstrations, in which Tang volunteered to help the protesters occupying the Taiwanese parliament building broadcast their message. The prime minister invited Tang to build media literacy curriculum for Taiwan's schools, which was implemented in late 2017. Following this work, Tang was appointed minister without portfolio for digital affairs in the Lin Chuan cabinet in August 2016. They took office as the "Digital Minister" on October 1, and were placed in charge of helping government agencies communicate policy goals and managing information published by the government, both via digital means. At age 35, Tang was the youngest minister without portfolio in Taiwanese history and was given this role to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations.

While as a conservative anarchist, Tang ultimately desires the abolition of Taiwan and all states, they justify working for the state by the opportunity it affords to promote worthwhile ends. Tang's conservatism stems from wanting to preserve free public spaces independent from the state, such as Internet properties, and wanting technological advances to be applied humanistically, so that all can reap its benefits rather than a few, to the exclusion of others. Tang's department does not follow hierarchical or bureaucratic relationships. As of 2017, Tang's staff of 15 chose to work in the department. The group produces a weekly roadmap as collaborators, not orders. Tang was quoted as saying, "My existence is not to become a minister for a certain group, nor to broadcast government propaganda. Instead, it is to become a "channel" to allow greater combinations of intelligence and strength to come together."

Tang's first initiative, the g0v project, involved swapping out the "o" for a zero in the government's "" top-level domain to view more accessible and interactive versions of those governmental websites. The project was open source, in-line with Tang's principles, and very popular, as accessed millions of times each month. Another initiative, vTaiwan, uses social media paradigms for citizens to create digital petitions. Those with 5,000 signatories are brought to the Premier and government ministries to be addressed. Changes implemented through this system include access to income tax software for non-Windows computers, and changes to cancer treatment regulations. The Taiwanese parliament complained that citizens had better access to influence regulation than they did as legislators. As of 2017, Tang was working on sharing economy software that would facilitate the free exchange of resources in abundance instead of the ride-sharing and peer hotel applications for which the technology is known.

As a general practice of "radical transparency", all of Tang's meetings are recorded, transcribed, and uploaded on a public website. Tang also publicly responds to questions sent through another website.

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