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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid