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Ear to the Ground

The Death of Online Freedom in Vietnam

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Posted on Sep 3, 2013
goosmurf (CC BY 2.0)

An internet cafe in Vietnam.

Speaking out against the Vietnamese state online was already illegal, but with Decree 72, the government has found new, detailed ways to restrict freedom of expression on the Internet. Linking to or quoting a news source based outside of Vietnam is now banned, thanks to the law in effect as of Sunday. It also states that foreign websites must have at least one server located in Vietnam, a stipulation that may lead to most sites being blocked. The rest of the world has not responded well to this new form of oppression, according to The Daily Dot:

Reporters Without Borders says Vietnam has imprisoned 35 bloggers, the highest number of any country besides China, which has 15 times Vietnam’s population.

The Freedom Online Coalition, a group of 21 mostly Western governments devoted to tracking free expression online, resoundingly condemned the move. In a statement, the Coalition declared that Decree 72 appears to violate a 2012 decision by the United Nations that human rights, which include free expression, apply equally online.

Criminalizing these acts, the article argues, is “either a drastic misunderstanding of how the Internet works, a stunning seize of power, or both.” From this distance, it looks as though both are at play.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

 

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