News / Asia

Vietnam Announces Big Fines for Social Media Propaganda

FILE - A customer uses his tablet to access the Internet at a 'wifi coffee shop' in downtown Hanoi.
FILE - A customer uses his tablet to access the Internet at a 'wifi coffee shop' in downtown Hanoi.
Reuters
Vietnam will hand out fines of 100 million dong ($4,740) to anyone criticizing the government on social media, under a new law announced this week, the latest measure in a widening crackdown on dissent by the country's communist rulers.
 
Comments that did not constitute criminal offenses would trigger fines if held to be “propaganda against the state”, or spreading “reactionary ideology,” according to the law signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
 
Vietnam has repeatedly drawn fire for the harsh treatment and lengthy jail terms it has given to bloggers who criticized its one-party regime. The number of arrests and convictions has soared in the last four years.
 
The new decree is vaguely worded and did not say what comments amounted to a criminal offense, which can be punished with prison, or an “administrative violation” that rates a fine.
 
Internet penetration is soaring in a country of an estimated 90 million people, a third of whom use the Internet and about 20 million of whom have Facebook accounts, a report published at a seminar on information technology in Ho Chi Minh City in September showed.
 
A Vietnamese Facebook user who campaigned online for the release of his brother jailed for criticizing the government fell foul of the same law and was last month sentenced to 15 months of house arrest.
 
Rights groups and foreign governments have come down hard on Vietnam over its draconian cyber laws, including the United States, which has urged Vietnam to improve its human rights record to strengthen its case for stronger trade ties.
 
Media freedom campaigners Reporters Without Borders calls the country “an enemy of the Internet.”
 
The law would anger social media users, said Nguyen Lan Thang, a well-known Vietnamese Internet activist, who questioned the need for it.
 
“How could the government be destroyed by comments and the sharing of information on personal social media?” Thang said.
 
The decree also said anyone posting online a map of Vietnam inconsistent with the country's sovereignty claims faced fines.
 
The issue is hugely sensitive in Vietnam, where China's perceived encroachment of territory generates the kind of quiet anger experts say Vietnam's government wants to rein in.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs