Internet management under strict scrutiny

The Prime Minister has asked relevant agencies to investigate several websites that distort the situation in Vietnam, speak ill of the Party’s leadership, and incite social disturbances against the administration.

After religious issues were addressed long ago, several websites and blogs no longer seem interested in drumming up their allegations that Vietnam violates human rights and religious freedom, or in lobbying to include the country on the list of “countries of particular concern” (CPC). 

However, taking advantage of the recent issues in the East Sea and cases of coercive land management, they strongly supported spontaneous demonstrations “in the name of national patriotism” and published misleading information to stir up social unrest.

In fact, some people operating covertly via individual websites and blogs disseminated information praising western-style democracy and distorting Party guidelines and State policies.  

There is no denying that the recent rapid development of information technology, including the internet, enables the public to easily access up-to-date information, yet readers are sometimes misguided and fall victim to uncertified information. 

In an online exchange conducted via the Government Portal in June 2012, Minister of Information and Communication Nguyen Bac Son said such information must be kept under strict control, and the publishers must be dully punished under law.

According to Son, heavy financial fines should be levied against those who post such information because they violate the Press Law and encroach upon people’s dignity, status, and rights to freedom.

“We are compiling a draft to replace the current decree on managing the internet, including online gaming and blogs, that will make it easier for people to access the internet, but at the same time minimise behaviour that takes advantage of loopholes to violate individual freedom and the law,” said Son.

The internet came to Vietnam in the late 1990s and has been widely used across the country since then. To date, more than 35 of the population have access to the internet, one of the highest rates in Southeast Asia and Asia. The number of users is continually increasing as hundreds of online newspapers, thousands of webpages of organisations, and millions of individual blogs are introduced.

Obviously, development goes along with management, a necessary move for Vietnam and any other sovereign countries in the world. The Vietnamese government is determined to prevent any behaviour that abuses press freedom to oppose the State or deliver content that goes against traditional norms and practices, jeopardizes public interests or has a negative impact on the community.

Nguyen The Ky, deputy head of the Party Commission for Information and Education, said in addition to preventing misleading information, Vietnam is developing its social networks to make them reliable for users.

He underlined the need to develop a mechanism to provide timely and correct information to domestic press agencies.

“The bottom line is that domestic media agencies, including online newspapers, must provide useful and relevant information quickly and reliably to woo readers,” said Ky. “When the readers are satisfied with information they are looking for, they will not need to search for information from overseas.”

Ky revealed that a new mechanism for providing information will be jointly developed by the Party Commission for Information and Education, the Ministry of Information and Communication, and the Vietnam Journalists’ Association to ensure public convenience and strengthen State management.

Many bad internet users have been unmasked following a number of recent events in the Middle East and North Africa. They have used the press and other social media networks such as Facebook, Twister, Wikileaks, and Youtube as tools to misguide the public, and incite social disturbances in an attempt to overthrow the administration. The government of Vietnam does not allow any such elements to abuse the internet in order to carry out insidious schemes against the State.