Vietnam has announced a new law that will ban the discussion of news on blogs and social media. The law will take effect in September.
Known as Decree 72 , the law restricts the use of blogs and social networks to providing or exchanging personal information and bans using them to share information from news sources.
Reporters Without Borders said:
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. If it takes effect, Vietnamese will be permanently
deprived of the independent and outspoken information that normally circulates in blogs and forums.
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 (without US help). But, at the same time, it will reinforce the
legislative arsenal available to the authorities.
They will no longer have to charge independent news providers with 'anti-government propaganda' or 'trying to overthrow the government.' Instead, they will just have to set a few examples under the new law in order to get the others to censor themselves.
If Decree 72 is implemented, we urge the entire international community to condemn Vietnam severely and to consider imposing economic sanctions, especially on the tourism sector, to which the government pays a great deal of attention. Sanctions on
tourism are the most likely way to get a reaction from the authorities.
Until now, blogs and social networks have been important sources of news and information for Vietnamese Internet users, and an effective way of bypassing censorship. But Prime Minister Dung announced that they could henceforth be used only to provide or
exchange personal information.
Update: American deeply concerned
7th August 2013. See
The US has criticised a new internet decree in Vietnam that would restrict online users from discussing current affairs.
The law, announced last week and due to come into force in September, says social media should only be used for [exchanging] personal information .
The US embassy in Hanoi said it was deeply concerned by the decree.