New Vietnamese media law comes under fire

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Internet vietnamInternational media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has launched a campaign against a new law in Vietnam that restricts what citizens are allowed to post on the Internet.

“The announced decree is nothing less than the harshest offensive against freedom of information since Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decree imposing tough sanctions on the media in 2011,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

“If it takes effect, Vietnamese will be permanently deprived of the independent and outspoken information that normally circulates in blogs and forums,” he said.

Specifically, the new law restricts Vietnamese citizens from using blogs to post “compiled information,” but fails to explain what that means. It also is not clear how the law is meant to be enforced. Social media sites and blogs are popular in Vietnam, and the intention of the law appears to be to limit blog and social media posts to personal, not political, subject matter.

Moreover, the new law bans Internet Service Providers from providing information that is “against Vietnam and undermines national security, social order and national unity,” “provokes violence, superstition and damages national culture,” or “distorts and slanders the prestige of any organizations, the honor and dignity of individuals.”

Over the past several years Vietnam has jailed 35 blogging dissidents, making it second only to China in imprisoning online news providers, according to Reporters Without Borders.

It is possible, however, that the law is meant to protect copyrights more than to limit personal freedom. For instance, it requires citizens to post links to articles if they cite any information in them, which suggests that copyright protection could be the concern. At present the law is worded so vaguely that the exact meaning is not clear, and explanations have not been forthcoming.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

International media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has launched a campaign against a new law in Vietnam that restricts what citizens are allowed to post on the Internet.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Internet vietnamInternational media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has launched a campaign against a new law in Vietnam that restricts what citizens are allowed to post on the Internet.

“The announced decree is nothing less than the harshest offensive against freedom of information since Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decree imposing tough sanctions on the media in 2011,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

“If it takes effect, Vietnamese will be permanently deprived of the independent and outspoken information that normally circulates in blogs and forums,” he said.

Specifically, the new law restricts Vietnamese citizens from using blogs to post “compiled information,” but fails to explain what that means. It also is not clear how the law is meant to be enforced. Social media sites and blogs are popular in Vietnam, and the intention of the law appears to be to limit blog and social media posts to personal, not political, subject matter.

Moreover, the new law bans Internet Service Providers from providing information that is “against Vietnam and undermines national security, social order and national unity,” “provokes violence, superstition and damages national culture,” or “distorts and slanders the prestige of any organizations, the honor and dignity of individuals.”

Over the past several years Vietnam has jailed 35 blogging dissidents, making it second only to China in imprisoning online news providers, according to Reporters Without Borders.

It is possible, however, that the law is meant to protect copyrights more than to limit personal freedom. For instance, it requires citizens to post links to articles if they cite any information in them, which suggests that copyright protection could be the concern. At present the law is worded so vaguely that the exact meaning is not clear, and explanations have not been forthcoming.

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