State will supervise weblogs better than the bloggers themselves
From Google News
Vietnam needs to control blogs to prevent the spread of subversive and sexually explicit content, communist government officials said.
Weblogs have exploded in Vietnam in recent years, especially among youths, providing a forum for chatting about mostly societal and lifestyle issues and providing an alternative to the state-controlled media.
Recent anti-Chinese protests over the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, which were halted following rebukes from Beijing, were organised and debated on the Internet but almost completely ignored by the official press.
The ministry responsible for culture and information, which controls traditional media, in July said it was drafting regulations that would fine bloggers who post subversive and sexually explicit content online.
Deputy Information and Communications Minister Do Quy Doan said: Once we have obvious regulations, I think no one will be able to supervise weblogs better than the bloggers themselves.
The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly condemns a Vietnamese court decision to imprison blogger Nguyen Van Hai, better known by his penname Dieu Cay, on charges of tax evasion.
The court convicted Hai, 55, in a closed-door trial, sentencing him to 30 months in prison.
According to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), Hai was convicted for failing to pay 10 years of back taxes on a part of his residence that he rented to an optical shop. One of his lawyers quoted in the same news story said that the contract agreement with
the shop stipulated that the tenant, rather than the owner, must pay the tax.
The DPA report said Hai belonged to a group of bloggers known as the League of Independent Journalists, and that his colleagues believed he was sentenced for his critical reporting on nationalistic protests launched in January against China's claims to
the nearby Spratly and Paracel Islands.
We call in the strongest terms possible for the relevant authorities to overturn the trumped-up conviction of blogger Nguyen Van Hai, said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia Program director: Hai has an established reputation for critical commentary in
Vietnam's blogosphere. There is little doubt that his arrest is due to his postings critical of the government.
With blogging on the rise in Vietnam, authorities plan tighter curbs and tougher monitoring.
Vietnamese authorities plan to police the content of dissident blogs through random checks and self-policing by the country's blogging community, a senior Vietnamese Internet security expert has said.
There should be a legal corridor to assure better operation of the blogs, the director of the state-run Bach Khoa Internet Security Center, Nguyen Tu Quang, told RFA's Vietnamese service. We'll manage them by randomly checkingówe don't need to
control all the blogs.
Earlier this month, Information and Communication Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan was quoted as saying Hanoi would seek cooperation from Internet giants Google and Yahoo! to help regulate the country's flourishing blogging scene.
The government will announce new rules this month, stressing that Weblogs should serve as personal online diaries, not as organs to disseminate opinions about politics, religion, and society, senior officials were quoted as saying.
Quang said under the draft rules being debated violators could face up to U.S. $12,000 in fines and up to 12 years of jail time.
Authorities currently block some Web sites run by overseas Vietnamese that espouse views critical of the government, and they often seek to shut down anything seen as encouraging public protest.
In September, blogger Dieu Cay was jailed for 2.5 years on tax evasion charges after he tried to persuade people to protest at the Olympic torch ceremonies in Ho Chi Minh City last summer.
Vietnam has tightened restrictions on internet blogs, banning bloggers from raising subjects the government deems inappropriate.
Blogs should follow Vietnamese law, and be written in clean and wholesome language, according to a government document seen by local media.
Internet service providers will be held accountable for the content of blogs they host.
The new rules, drawn up by the Ministry of Information and Communications, require internet service providers to report to the government every six months and provide information about bloggers on request.
The rules ban posts that undermine national security, incite violence or disclose state secrets.
In response to the fast growing citizen journalist movement, the Vietnamese government launched a new entity (Administration Agency for Radio, Television and Electronics Information) and decree to restrict Internet freedom, censor private blogs, and
compel information technology companies to cooperate with authorities.
Since the end of last year, authorities in Vietnam have taken further steps to restrict freedom of expression by unleashing a systematic campaign against bloggers and internet activists. At least 15 bloggers have been arrested and harassed since
A democracy activist could face the death penalty if convicted at a trial expected in Vietnam late this month, his father said.
Nguyen Tien Trung was arrested in July along with several others, including human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh, and accused of anti-state activities.
Trung was arrested for propaganda against the state , which carries a prison term on conviction. But he is now facing the more serious charge of subverting the people's administration , his father said. The charge carries a maximum penalty
French European Parliament member Nicole Kiil-Nielsen said in a letter to Vietnam's French embassy: He is a democrat and pacifist.
Vietnam has issued a new decree to censor the activities of journalists and bloggers that includes provision for fines of up to 40
million dong (2,000 dollars) in a country in which the average salary is 126 dollars.
The government is demonstrating its determination to tighten its grip on news and information just as the ruling Communist Party is holding its congress, Reporters Without Borders said: This decree is trying to apply the censorship
already in force for traditional media to blogs.
The press freedom organization added: The protection of the confidentiality of sources is seriously threatened by this decree. The government is going after online anonymity by trying to prevent bloggers from using pseudonyms. This could make
it easier for the authorities both to harass them and to arrest and jail them.
Due to take effect next month, the decree makes it an offence to publish information that is non-authorised or not in the interests of the people. By interpreting these vague definitions broadly, the authorities will be able to
increase the number of arrests of blogger and journalists.
The decree also provides for fines of up to 3 million dong (155 dollars) for anyone who publishes documents or letters without identifying themselves or revealing their sources, and for up to 20 million dong if the documents are linked to an
Vietnamese authorities must stop their harassment of independent blogger and rights activist Huynh Thuc Vy and allow her to report freely, the
Committee to Protect Journalists said. Huynh was briefly detained by police and threatened with anti-state charges, according to news reports.
Huynh was taken into police custody in Ho Chi Minh City while meeting with security officials about an earlier arrest during a government crackdown on anti-China protests staged on July 1. According to a Radio Free Asia report, officials had blocked
several other independent bloggers from attending and reporting on the event.
Huynh said in a press interview after her release that she faces possible charges related to Article 79, legislation that allows for harsh prison sentences for vaguely defined anti-state activities. It was unclear if the potential charges
were under formal investigation and related to either her blogging or protest activities.
Huynh, who recently met with a CPJ representative in Ho Chi Minh City, began writing in 2008 and maintains a blog that focuses on human rights-related issues. She said she was previously fined 85 million dong for administrative violations
for using the Internet to send perceived sensitive information abroad.
Vietnam's communist rulers have ordered a crackdown on anti-government blogs, two of which immediately pledged defiance against the one-party state.
The government does not allow freedom of expression or a free media and claims that public criticism or even discussion about its failings could lead to social instability and ultimately loss of power. It labels democracy and free speech activists
as terrorists .
A government statement named three blogs it accused of publishing distorted and fabricated articles against the leadership. Vietnamese state employees were forbidden from visiting the sites and prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung ordered
police to investigate the sites and arrest any offending bloggers
Reaction was swift from two of the named sites, which feature posts by mostly anonymous contributors that criticise government corruption and alleged human rights abuses. Danlambao, or the People's Journalism Blog, said it would keep publishing.
Reporters Without Borders says there are currently at least five journalists and 19 bloggers being held on various charges in Vietnam.
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the harsh prison sentences handed down today to three prominent Vietnamese online journalists
convicted of anti-state charges.
In a widening crackdown on press and Internet freedoms, Vietnamese courts have sentenced six journalists and bloggers to prison in the last five weeks.
A Ho Chi Minh Court sentenced Nguyen Van Hai, who writes under the blog name Dieu Cay, to 12 years, according to news reports. Ta Phong Tan, a former policewoman who maintained a blog known as Justice and Truth, was sentenced to 10 years,
and Phan Thanh Hai, who wrote under the penname Anh Ba Saigon, was given four years, news reports said. All had posted blog entries deemed critical of the Communist Party-dominated government, the reports said.
Today's sentences, imposed against three online journalists who were merely expressing critical opinions, mark a new low point for press freedom in Vietnam, said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. We call upon
the judicial authorities to reverse these outrageous convictions and sentences and ask Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's government to reform its repressive laws in line with international standards of freedom of expression.
A Vietnamese court has been criticised by the US after it found 14 pro-democracy activists guilty of subversion and sentenced them to jail terms ranging
from three to 13 years.
The long prison terms suggest the country's Communist government is intent on stepping up its crackdown on dissenters to its authoritarian, one-party rule -- particularly online.
The defendants are linked to Viet Tan, a Vietnamese dissident group based in the US. Vietnam has labelled it a terrorist group, but the US government says it has seen no evidence it advocates violence.
The US embassy said Wednesday's verdicts were:
part of a disturbing human rights trend in Vietnam.
We call on the government to release these individuals and all other prisoners of conscience immediately, it said in a statement.
In a widening crackdown on online expression, Vietnamese security officials have arrested critical independent blogger Le Anh Hung and are holding him
against his will in a psychiatric institution, news reports said. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the arrest and calls on authorities to immediately release Hung and all other journalists detained on spurious charges in Vietnam.
Six security agents arrested Hung on January 24 in the northern city of Hung Yen, saying they needed to question him in connection to matters related to his temporary residence papers, according to a Radio Free Asia report. The police took Hung to
Social Support Center No. 2, a mental health institution in Hanoi, the report said. The institution's director later told Hung's colleagues that he had been admitted at the request of his mother and was not allowed to see visitors, the report said.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a coalition of three international rights groups, said in a public statement that Hung's mother had made no such request. The statement also said that before his arrest, Hung had been
subjected to repeated interrogations, threats, and harassment by police. The RFA report said Hung has faced prior harassment for his online writings, which include critical blog entries on high-level corruption and abuse of power inside the ruling
Hung's arrest and detention underscore how sensitive officials have become to online criticism, said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative: Instead of crushing online dissent, Vietnam's government would be wise to listen to
the growing dissatisfaction with its rule that is being expressed on independent blogs.
But as Internet access has exploded in Vietnam, so has a government crackdown on Internet users, activists say. A new report from the International
Federation for Human Rights and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights tallied more than 30 people imprisoned or awaiting trial for peacefully using the Internet, many jailed for years for blogging about corruption and other touchy topics. A dozen more
bloggers are under house arrest.
Police in Vietnam have arrested a prominent blogger for supposed anti-state activities.
Pham Viet Dao was arrested in Hanoi for abusing democratic freedoms , the Ministry of Public Security said. Dao ran a blog critical of government leaders and policies, and discussed sensitive issues like the territorial row with China.
The charge against Dao, a former government official, carries a prison sentence of up to seven years. His blog was unavailable on Friday, according to reports.
In a previous speech he gave that was posted online by another blogger, Dao said social media in Vietnam made up for handicapped official media . Fortunately, with the boom of [the] internet, many individuals and bloggers have become
Vietnam has announced a new law that will ban the discussion of news on blogs and social media. The law will take effect in September.
Known as Decree 72 , the law restricts the use of blogs and social networks to providing or exchanging personal information and bans using them to share information from news sources.
Reporters Without Borders said:
The announced decree is nothing less than the harshest offensive against freedom of information since Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decree imposing tough sanctions on the media in 2011. If it takes effect, Vietnamese will be permanently
deprived of the independent and outspoken information that normally circulates in blogs and forums.
The decree is both nonsensical and extremely dangerous. Its implementation will require massive and constant government surveillance of the entire Internet, an almost impossible challenge (without US help). But, at the same time, it will reinforce the
legislative arsenal available to the authorities.
They will no longer have to charge independent news providers with 'anti-government propaganda' or 'trying to overthrow the government.' Instead, they will just have to set a few examples under the new law in order to get the others to censor themselves.
If Decree 72 is implemented, we urge the entire international community to condemn Vietnam severely and to consider imposing economic sanctions, especially on the tourism sector, to which the government pays a great deal of attention. Sanctions on
tourism are the most likely way to get a reaction from the authorities.
Until now, blogs and social networks have been important sources of news and information for Vietnamese Internet users, and an effective way of bypassing censorship. But Prime Minister Dung announced that they could henceforth be used only to provide or
exchange personal information.
A Vietnamese court today sentenced independent blogger Dinh Nhat Uy to a 15-month suspended prison term and one year of house arrest in connection with his posts on Facebook, according to news reports . The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the
verdict and calls on Vietnamese authorities to end their escalating campaign of harassment against independent bloggers.
In a one-day trial, a Long An province court ruled that Uy's use of Facebook to campaign for his brother's release from prison on anti-state propaganda charges was in breach of Article 258 in the criminal code, a vague charge that bans abusing
democratic freedoms. News reports said Uy's conviction was the first against a blogger or dissident specifically for using Facebook.
Uy had been calling for the release of his brother, Dinh Nguyen Kha, a computer technician, who was sentenced in June to eight years in prison--reduced to four years on appeal--for anti-government propaganda.