Vietnam bans bloggers from sharing news reports

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 August, 2013, 2:11am


Vietnam is to ban bloggers and social media users from sharing news stories online under a decree seen as a further crackdown on online freedom.

Blogs or social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter - which have become hugely popular over the past few years in the heavily censored country - should be used only "to provide and exchange personal information", according to the decree.

This decree clearly aims to muzzle the people
Blogger Nguyen Quang Vinh

The document, signed by prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, 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 make it illegal to share links to stories or even discuss articles published online in the state-run press.

The decree, which comes into force next month, 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".

Deputy minister of information and communications Le Nam Thang said the rules aimed to help internet users "find correct and clean information on the internet", the VietnamNet online newspaper reported.

Online commentators reacted with anger at the targetting of 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.