New Vietnam law cracks down on online free speech, will jail or fine critics who “oppose the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”


In a decision that brings up the dystopian world of 1984, the Vietnamese government now has the power to jail or fine its citizens which criticize it.

The law in question is called Decree 72. Aside from sounding like something the Emperor in Star Wars would create, it gives the government the right to fine its citizens 100 million dong, which equates to around $5,000 USD, for posting so-called anti-Vietnam comments on the web. The bill states that it can do so if their citizens are “abusing the provision and use of the Internet and information on the web,” or make comments which “oppose the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” and “undermining the fine customs and traditions of the nation.”

It also gives them the “right” to jail those whose comments they consider to be criminal. Specific details on what sort of comments constitute imprisonment were not made clear.

This is not the first time that Vietnam has garnered scorn for its censorship policies. Back in 2009 it banned Facebook, as well as other websites. More recently any discussion of news or current affairs by bloggers, or anyone commenting online, for that matter, has also been banned too.

[via All Things D, image via mariachily’s flickr]

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  • New Moon

    [@Shava Nerad] I can’t agree more with you.

  • New Moon

    Shava Nerad, on Dec 1, you’ve made it again with a very wise post here on dottech. Thank you so much for your time, effort and wisdom. Your views shine light exactly where the crack is.

    Just this morning, as I was commenting on a news article about PMDC in China selling off what’s left in the UK, not much, to the Chinese. All the 30 or so can do comments, not derogatory in any way by the jobless and economically hard hit people, were all deleted in a whim. I thought WTF 10 times.

    Let’s think of things in a slightly different scenario. Is it the system/rule book itself is a big massive scam from top down, be it democracy, communism or sharia law, OR the majority of the people who are supposedly implementing it engage in crony ways that we are having all these stupid problems in the world these days? Maybe both ha?

    They blame us for over population, breading like rats. Wait a min, doesn’t the mother Earth sustain from day one those rats that are breading like rats, those ants that are breading like rats, those any other animals on land, in water and in the air, plus all different kinds of plants that are breading like rats^rats^e10? The more I think, the more absurd it becomes. On the other hand, the missing link is still missing, the inflation is still going up, Daniel Suelo must be laughing. lol

  • Shava Nerad

    This is only a dollar sign put on a longstanding campaign that has included raids on blogger’s homes, arrests, destroyed computers and many other measures for at least the past decade that I know of and likely before that.

    When I was executive director of The Tor Project, countries such as Vietnam and Burma/Myanmar were particularly problematic for political bloggers because physical security for political activists in close knit communities where everyone knows everyone else’s business means that no one has physical privacy of opinion, and informants to the government are frequent from within households or from neighbors, “evesdroppers” at cybercafes, and so on.

    I expect that continues. This is just a formal regulation.

    Online anonymity won’t do you much good when there isn’t much physical privacy, and people gossip and snipe.

    Dissent is not valued, shall we say, even in many subcultures in America, far less in more communally oriented cultures.

    This country was founded by a crew of geek (trouble)makers. We have a rep to live up/down to.

    In other places, they are more about some variation of Wa ( than dissent — in China when a page is censored by the Great Firewall, it is referred to as being “harmonized” (equivalent term to Wa in Japanese).

    We are living in peculiar times where these cultural tensions and times of change are working their differences out in law and information policies at the cost of lives and livelihoods of real people.

    It’s fascinating to me when I hear others tell me that philosophy or political science or history or what have you are boring and wastes of time — when here we see those as living, applied sciences in the lab of civilization, with real consequences in the news.

    Technology is inseparable from society.

    It is not online speech. It is speech. It is communicated online. The internet is one form of medium of expression but in a dozen years, people will start to look at us today, differentiating “phone” and “print/reading” and “internet” and “video” and “radio” communications with separate laws and regs and wonder “what were they thinking? How could they think like that? It’s all just communications. That it’s on the internet doesn’t make it any more or less magic than it being on a landline or on a piece of paper — it’s a person’s communications with another person, and so it should be just as public or private as that communication would be in that other medium — the medium isn’t the determination of the legal handling of a message, the LAW is. What were they thinking, letting the law people slip in the idea that they should be able to slip around whatever they wanted to do at the limits of the TECH, not the limits of decency or sane constitutional limits?”

    Those who do not learn from history…?