News / Asia

Vietnam Says New Internet Decree Good for Business

A man reading online news with his laptop at a coffee shop in downtown Hanoi, (File photo).
A man reading online news with his laptop at a coffee shop in downtown Hanoi, (File photo).
Marianne Brown
Vietnam’s controversial internet law is scheduled to take effect on Sunday. Critics say the new rules are aimed at stifling speech online and could discourage businesses from operating in Vietnam. But the government says the measures are aimed at protecting intellectual property and fighting plagiarism.

The decree states that blogs and other social media sites must contain only personal information. It also requires local companies to monitor sites for illegal content. The long list of prohibited activities includes “superstitious practices” and “disparaging the nation's customs and traditions.”

The punishments for violations are still being drafted.

Critics say the measures are vaguely worded and overly broad, signs they say indicate the law is aimed at silencing government critics online.  

"The lawmaking process in Vietnam is often not clear. While consultations with key stakeholders take place, laws sometimes produce unintended consequences that harm Vietnam's business and investment climate,” said Adam Sitkoff, with the American Chamber of Commerce.

Hanoi has responded to the outcry by defending the measures.
 
An article published in Communist party newspaper Nhan Dan on August 8 said that although most Internet users in Vietnam “communicate in a civilized manner,” others use social media to “defame the prestige and honor of others” and “incite hostility to the government.”  The article said therefore it is necessary to “control the Internet by means of laws.”
 
Vietnam lacks legal copyright protections and defenders of the new measures say they are aimed at helping the country’s publishers and software makers.
 
Anh Minh Do, editor of the website Tech in Asia said the law is partly the result of two legal cases.  The first involves news portal Bao Moi, which posted articles from local media onto its site without asking permission. “Newspapers got together and sued Bao Moi, so that’s the newspaper lobbying side,” said Minh.

The other case is Nhac Cua Tui, which means “my music” in Vietnamese.”
 
The domain NCT.VN is a platform for game developers and gamers to share their games online. However, the site attracted controversy earlier this year because many of the games were reportedly pirated.

Minh said restrictions on what content can be re-posted will help protect against piracy. “It’s a basic copyright patent issue. I talk to a few of my friends in the gaming industry. For them it’s good, they have more of a legal precedent for copyright on their games and stuff,” explained Minh.

Vietnam has more than 13 million video game players, and the industry is growing rapidly. Nguyen Tuan Huy is the founder of Emobi Games, one of Vietnam’s foremost game developers. He said although he does not agree with all parts of the law, it has the potential to help the industry. “It’s good because at this moment anything the government does is better than nothing. Three years ago the government didn’t do anything for the gaming industry so we were really in a harsh situation,” he said.

Vietnam is in the midst of negotiations over the U.S.- led free-trade organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It is unclear how the new potential restrictions on freedom of speech or the copyright protections could impact those negotiations.

“It’s being negotiated in private so it’s hard to say what Vietnam is going to have to do regarding intellectual property or other issues like that. I think what people do recognize is that of the 12 countries currently negotiating TPP, Vietnam is the least developed and Vietnam is the country with the most work to do,” said Sitkoff.

TPP members are expected to protect other members’ intellectual property. In a written statement to VOA, the U.S. embassy said the Vietnamese government has partially laid the legal foundation for enforcing intellectual property rights, but more must be done to prevent “copyright piracy on a commercial scale.”

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More