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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.