Vietnam bans discussion of news on social networks

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Very unfortunate news for internet users in Vietnam. The government of Vietnam has just introduced Decree 72 which outlaws discussion of news on social media websites and is “expected to” take effect in September. According to the government of Vietnam, “individuals should not quote or share information from press agencies or websites of government agencies.” On top of that, the decree bans internet service providers from “serving information that is against Vietnam”.

The Asian Internet Coalition (AIC) , a group formed by eBay, Facebook, Google and Yahoo, has criticized saying it is very “disappointed” that the Vietnamese government is trying to take control of the internet.

“We are disappointed with the Vietnam Internet Management Decree that was recently passed by the Government of Vietnam. We believe that the decree will negatively affect Vietnam’s Internet ecosystem. In the long term, the Decree will stifle innovation and discourage businesses from operating in Vietnam, thereby hindering Vietnam’s goal to establish itself as an advanced competitive ICT nation.”

The U.S officials in Hanoi also have criticized the Vietnamese government. They said that individuals deserve the same freedom online as “they do offline” and are “deeply concerned” about the decree. They added that the Vietnamese government should “respect  the right to freedom of expression.”

However, a Vietnamese representative said that the decree has been “misunderstood.” Nguyen Thanh Huyen, head of the ministry’s Online Information Section said:

“We never ban people from sharing information or linking news from websites. It was totally misunderstood. This is a normal decree which doesn’t go against any human right commitments.”

Regardless, the decree still bans people from posting contents that may be harmful to national security or any post that opposes the Vietnamese government.

According to Reporters Without Boarders, Vietnam’s press freedom index has been always been poor. The country is ranked 172 out of 179, only ahead of China, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea. This is only going to make matters worse.

[via Wired UK, IT Pro Portal, Reporter with Boarders, Reuters UK, image via Channel News Asia] 

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3 comments

  1. DT

    According to my understanding, the Government want to ban people from sharing info without the LINK to the online newspaper, even if they include the [via SOURCE] at the bottom, because that reduces the view count of the original website, which is bad for revenue.

    And the “serving information that is against Vietnam” is strictly REACTIONARY, i.e. twisting the truth to oppose the Government. Discussing is fine if you’ve got proof and logic along with it.

    It goes a little bit overboard, but I can understand why they want to do that.

  2. Circle Walker

    If anyone actually paid attention to the East region, that has been going on for a while now. It’s just that they made it illegal now, with laws. I think overall, it hurts the country more than the free speech and everything else relatively to a person’s rights. Yeah, politics (that is the way they do thing, Vietnam can’t seek help from the West against the “invading” and troublesome neighbor, China). However the government is known for passing a law, then quietly reverse it later on.