In Vietnam, a new law has been passed under which it’s illegal if citizens post news or “general information” online. Some of you may be thinking that what’s new in this law, this too shall be one of those government crackdowns on Internet that could hardly be enforceable. However, to your surprise this time instead of letting the violators skip penal action, the government has ensured that none of violators could dodge legal action.
The analysis done by Freedom House, the watchdog group, Vietnam isn’t the first country to have ordered such a crackdown, even if it has adopted methods that are above all harsh on the free speaking in their country. The trend of Internet censorship is rising all around the world, and restriction imposed by one-party countries such as Vietnam does not happen to be only such government passing legislation on what people can post online or not.
An analysis of the headlines from the past month alone would itself make evident the rising trend across the world. In U.K., a automatic filter is put in place which would block pornography and such other unwanted content as they may according to Internet rights groups. Another example comes from Jordan where it has been made mandatory by news Web sites to obtain a special license from the government before posting anything online.
“What we’ve seen in our research is that as more people access the internet, governments are more and more likely to impose measures that censor certain types of content,” said Sanja Kelly, the project director for Freedom House’s commissioned research project titled “Freedom on the Net,” with its 2013 report slated to be published in September. “One of our findings for this year will be that Internet censorship is on the rise: more Web sites are being blocked than ever before and an increasing number of countries are passing laws that would restrict certain types of online content.”
In times when such behavior is emulated by governments globally, the “Decree 72,” enforced by Vietnam appears to be an extensive ban on Internet news and information, hitting a new low in the realm of Internet censorship. According to AFP, the new law is going to forbid blogs and social networks being used for anything other than “exchang[ing] personal information.” Even quoting from state-run newspapers or Web sites is also going to be banned under this decree.
As some commentators look at the legislation as a tool to protect traditional (read: state-run) media from increasing popularity of online media organizations, the reality may be far from this altruistic premise. Even though Vietnam cannot be compared to North Korea with it being a part of the World Trade Organization, and more than one-third of its people present online but it also happens to be one of the world’s last existing one-party communist governed states, with the most strict regulation on media. As Freedom House puts it, Journalists are accredited by the Communist Party, and the majority of media publications are owned and run by either the party or army with both subject to severe punishment for printing news that criticizes state or seeks to promote reform.
Source: Washington Post