Vietnam to ban sharing of news stories on social media
Vietnam is to ban bloggers and social media users from sharing news stories, in a further crackdown on online freedom.
11:41AM BST 01 Aug 2013
Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have become hugely popular over the last few years in the heavily-censored Communist country.
But a decree issued by the government said blogs should only be used “to provide and exchange personal information.”
The document, signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and made public late on Wednesday, stipulates that internet users should not use social networks to share or exchange information on current events.
Social media users will not be allowed “to quote general information … information from newspapers, press agencies or other state-owned websites”, Hoang Vinh Bao, head of the Department of Radio, TV and Electronic Information, said, according to a report on the state-run VNExpress news site.
It is not clear how the law will be implemented or the penalties faced, but internet commentators said it could in theory make it illegal to share links to stories or even discuss articles published online in Vietnam’s state-run press.
The decree, which comes into force in September, also bans foreign internet service providers from “providing information that is against Vietnam, undermining national security, social order and national unity … or information distorting, slandering and defaming the prestige of organisations, honour and dignity of individuals”.
Le Nam Thang, the deputy information and communications minister, said the new rules aim to help internet users “find correct and clean information on the internet.”
The country bans private media and all newspapers and television channels are state-run.
Many citizens prefer to use social media and blogs to get their information rather than the staid official press.
But the authoritarian government has repeatedly attempted to stifle growing online debate in what rights groups say is an escalating crackdown on freedom of expression.
Online commentators reacted with fury to the decree.
“This decree clearly aims to muzzle the people,” Nguyen Quang Vinh wrote on his well-read blog.
The authorities want “to turn us into robots”, wrote popular Vietnamese Facebook user Nguyen Van Phuong.
Edited by Chris Irvine