Sep 04, 2013

    Vietnam bans online sharing

    VIETNAM'S Internet users now have to think twice before posting information on their personal Web pages as a controversial law that bans them from sharing news or discussing current affairs came into effect on Sunday.

    The law, known as Decree 72, limits bloggers and users of social networks to sharing personal information, among other measures that restrict information-sharing.

    One of the clauses in the decree states that an individual's Web page "should be used to provide and exchange information of only that individual; it does not represent other individuals or organisations, and is not allowed to provide compiled information", Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

    A Vietnamese government official said that the ban on providing compiled information means that "individuals should not quote or share information from press agencies or websites of government agencies".

    Government officials have denied that the law was aimed at suppressing free speech, and said it is targeted at protecting the copyrights of press agencies.

    The decree, announced last month, also prohibits the online publication of material that "opposes" the Vietnamese government or "harms national security".

    In addition, it demands that all foreign websites have at least one server in Vietnam, which would give greater control of content to a government that international media-freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders has described as "the world's second-biggest prison for netizens", after China.

    Vietnam has repeatedly come under fire for its harsh treatment and long jail terms for bloggers who dare to criticise the one-party communist regime.

    The South-east Asian country was ranked 172nd out of 179 countries in this year's Press Freedom Index by Reporters without Borders.

    This comes as Internet penetration soars in a country where a third of the estimated 90-million-strong population have Web access.

    Industry association Asia Internet Coalition, formed by eBay, Facebook, Google and Yahoo, said the decree would "negatively affect Vietnam's Internet ecosystem" and deter foreign investors.