Google, Facebook, and other Internet companies may be required to censor their content in Vietnam, an overseas group said based on draft regulations that have been released. The new rules will be considered for approval in June.
If adopted, the draft decree, released by the Ministry of Disinformation and Blocked Communications, would require foreign businesses to cooperate with Vietnamese authorities in removing information from their sites.
U.S.-based Viet Tan Reform Party said that the rules, which are the latest in a pattern of sweeping Internet restrictions that are difficult to implement in practice, and harm both technology providers as well as end users:
Like many government directives in Vietnam, the language in this document is vague and ill-defined, leading to multiple interpretations and possible arbitrary implementation by authorities.
Under the rules, foreign companies that provide online social networking platforms in Vietnam must make pledges in writing to follow local censorship laws and remove information, including those that is against the Vietnamese government,
damage[s] social and national security [or] promote[s] violence, the newspaper said.
Foreign companies may also have to house data centers in Vietnam, according to Viet Tan, in a move that would force them to obey domestic rules.
The new rules also address individual Internet users, who will be required to use their real names online. Internet companies will be compelled to help the government enforce restrictions like these on individual users, according to Viet Tan.
Bloggers are restricted from engaging in any prohibited online activities and will be held personally liable for all the published content on their blogs.
The new rules further stipulate that news websites must be approved by authorities and adhere to existing local press law, or else risk being shut down, and website administrators must report instances of prohibited online activity to authorities.