Vietnam social media news sharing restrictions lead to outcry

01 August 2013 - 12:08 By Sapa-dpa
Access denied. File photo.
Access denied. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Facebook users in Vietnam on Thursday slammed a new decree which bans people from posting information found online.

"Will sharing a link also be punished?" Facebook user Hanh Phuc posted on his profile, adding "we need freedom for development."

Another user, Huong Nguyen, wrote that the decree was "evidence that the government doesn't understand the trend of society to become more open."

Decree 72 on "Management, Provision, Use of Internet Services and Information Content Online" states that blogs and social media sites must only contain personal information.

"Personal electronic sites are only allowed to put news owned by that person, and are not allowed to 'quote', 'gather' or summarise information from press organisations or government websites," local media quoted Hoang Vinh Bao, director of the Broadcasting and Electronic Information Department at the Ministry of Information and Communications, as saying.

The ban was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on July 15, communicated to Vietnamese press late Wednesday, and was due to come into force on September 1.

It also bans individuals from providing "general information" on their profiles or blogs.

The ministry was drafting the punishments for violation.

In recent years many blogs have been set up to share news typically censored by state-run media.

One Western diplomat, who declined to be named, said political bloggers were already being arrested, but the new rules would give the government "a piece of paper to point to."

The US embassy in Hanoi raised concerns about a draft of the decree in June 2012, highlighting potential human rights violations.