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Vietnam Bans Exchanging News, Personal Info, Via Internet

August 2, 2013

The Vietnam government announced new regulations, known as Decree 72 that restricts citizens exchanging information from news sources. It also bans them from sharing personal information. The law is expected to come into effect on September 1.
“The decree is both nonsensical and extremely dangerous. Its implementation will require massive and constant government surveillance of the entire Internet, an almost impossible challenge. But, at the same time, it will reinforce the legislative arsenal available to the authorities,” said the Paris-based international media freedom watcher Reporters without Borders (RSF).
To the people of Vietnam the internet had become one of the few sources of information that can circumvent the blanket official censorship of news in the country.
The Next Web reported Hoang Vinh Bao, director of the Broadcasting and Electronic Information Department at the Ministry of Information and Communications, of telling the press, “Personal electronic sites are only allowed to put news owned by that person, and are not allowed to ‘quote’, ‘gather’ or summarise information from press organisations or government websites.”
The new legislation comes in just over a week after US President Barack Obama met with his Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang in Washington. Although Vietnam’s human rights record, including the treatment of bloggers, has been subjected to international criticism, it was reported that Obama had not been forceful enough when he took up the matter at their meeting. (Please see the July 25 posting on this blog). Before the meeting human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch in New York urged Obama not to meet Sang.
Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.