Governments don’t like social media! The new medium can’t be baited the way old medium has been done. Social media has made the common man a publisher and that is the biggest worry for governments. Vietnam, the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula, isn’t a country that enables freedom of speech and it is now planning to control social media.
As reported by TNW, the latest developments indicate that the country is upright to clamp down social media. Last week the government announced a new decree stipulating that blogs and social media profiles belonging to individuals and businesses should contain personal information only. The regulation that will come into existence by September has already been criticized by the US.
According to Vietnamese site Tuoitrenews.vn provides further details of the new regulations, which were signed off by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on July 15 and communicated to media yesterday. The new regulations will come in to effect from September 1, 2013:
The 20.4 clause of the decree stipulates that “personal information webpage is a webpage created by individual on their own or via a social network. This page should be used to provide and exchange information of that individual only; it does not represent other individual or organization, and is not allowed to provide compiled information.”
The new clause states clearly that hence forth the citizens of the country should use social media for personal use and shouldn’t be quoting or discussing information from press organizations or government websites.
The new set of regulations is part of an update to Vietnam’s ‘Management, Provision, Use of Internet Services and Information Content Online’ legislation. The legislation was was introduced last year to a chorus of concern from rights groups, independent media and the US Embassy in Hanoi.
What is surprising is that Vietnam has received some praise over the last year from human rights activists as it has begun drafting a new constitution that addresses civil liberties and religious tolerance.
And with more than 40 activists arrested this year in Vietnam, the local internet users are concerned that, from September 1, sharing news and information will be made illegal, although it isn’t clear how the rules will be enforced.
According to The New York Times, the American Embassy in Hanoi said that the new rule, called Decree 72, “appears to be inconsistent with Vietnam’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as its commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The US embassy is “deeply concerned” by the decree and has also highlighted that it would affect the growth of the country’s fledgling IT industry and the prospects of encouraging foreign investment. The other fear is that international tech companies like Google and Facebook might have to comply with Vietnam’s censorship laws under the pretext of national threat.
Though, it is still not clear how Vietnam would implement the new regulation. It could follow the road followed by its counterpart, China where articles with a danger flag are often swiftly removed, and searches for certain sensitive words or phrases are often blocked. Or will the Government jail the offenders who don’t obey the rule on the grounds of “abusing democratic freedoms”, like it did to high-profile blogger, Pham Viet Dao who regularly covers sensitive political topics.
Image courtesy: Maria Ly