Vietnam seeks Google, Yahoo! help to control bloggers: reports

Students search and play games online inside an Internet shop in Hanoi

Students search and play games online inside an Internet shop in Hanoi

HANOI (AFP) — Communist Vietnam wants Internet giants Google and Yahoo! to help “regulate” the country’s flourishing blogging scene, state media said Tuesday, and stop “incorrect information” being published online.

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.

The regulations aim “to create a legal base for bloggers and related agencies to tackle violations in the area of blogging,” said Information and Communication Deputy Minister Do Quy Doan, according to the Thanh Nien daily.

The ministry “will contact Google and Yahoo! for cooperation in creating the best and the healthiest environment for bloggers,” he added.

The proposals follow the jailing in September of the high-profile blogger Dieu Cay — real name Nguyen Hoang Hai — for two and a half years on tax fraud charges. His appeal hearing is set for Thursday, court officials said.

Media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders charged that he was punished for criticising China’s claims over disputed South China Sea islands and called on the court “to acquit this cyber-dissident.”

The territorial issue is seen as highly sensitive by the Vietnam and Chinese governments.

Vietnam’s blogosphere has exploded in recent years, with school children to newspaper editors freely sharing their thoughts in a way that has not been possible in the state-controlled media.

Most users have chatted about lifestyle and personal issues, but some online writers have strayed into sensitive political areas and incurred the wrath of the authorities, with several bloggers, including Cay, ending up in prison.

The director of the state-run Bach Khoa Internet Security Centre, Nguyen Tu Quang, last month said under draft rules being debated, violators could face 12,000-dollar fines and up to 12 years jail.

“This is quite a strict punishment but perfectly suitable for those who intentionally release incorrect information about religion, the political system, state and government of Vietnam,” Quang was quoted as saying.

The OpenNet Initiative, a collaboration by experts from Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford and other universities, warned in a report last year that political Internet filtering in Vietnam is “pervasive.”

“Vietnam’s filtering regime is multi-layered, relying not only on computing technology but also on threats of legal liability, state-based and private monitoring of users’ online activities, and informal pressures such as supervision by employees or other users in cyber-cafes,” the report said.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9co16MRnGCvGcSlDt7s4E5b9djg

Advertisements

Vietnam must regulate blogs, say officials

http://news.smh.com.au/vietnam-must-regulate-blogs-say-officials/20071226-1j0y.html 

Vietnam needs to control blogs to prevent the spread of subversive and sexually explicit content, communist government officials said according to a state media report Wednesday.

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 this week told a conference on Vietnam’s press law that “controlling weblogs is about developing them in accordance with the law, not forbidding them.

“We should provide guidelines that help people know what type of information they can upload online,” Doan said according to a report in the English-language Than Nien (Youth Daily) newspaper.

Bloggers would also be held responsible for information they access, he reportedly said, adding: “Once we have obvious regulations, I think no one will be able to supervise weblogs better than the bloggers themselves.”

Nguyen The Ky, head of the press management and publishing bureau, said: “It’s alright some bloggers have recently showed their patriotism, posting opinions about the Paracels-Spratly archipelagos on their weblogs.”

“But some have sparked protest, causing public disorder and affecting the country’s foreign affairs.

“It’s impossible to control the Internet, so I think we should bolster technical security measures in addition to creating regulations.”