Vietnam has introduced regulations which bans Internet users from discussing and sharing news reports on the web, a blow for human rights and freedom of speech activists in the region.
Known as Decree 72, or the "Management, Provision, Use of Internet Services and Information Content Online," the legislation is vague enough that any number of Internet faux pas could land the Vietnamese in trouble.
Vietnamese residents cannot "quote or share information from press agencies or websites of government agencies," and "personal webpage owners are only allowed to provide their own information," according to the new law, which were signed-off by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on July 15.
In addition, website owners "are prohibited from taking news from media agencies and using that information as if it were their own."
While Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang said the rules are meant to prevent the spread of false information online, Decree 72 effectively means that people are not allowed to 'broadcast' their opinions online, and are banned from sharing, copying or summarizing information from media outlets.
Social media users should only "provide and exchange personal information," and material which "opposes" the government or "harms national security" cannot be published online.
Reporters Without Borders, an agency dedicated to free sharing of information, believes that the ruling is a "gross violation of the right to inform and be informed." The agency 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.
The decree is both nonsensical and extremely dangerous.
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."
Dozens of activists and writers have been convicted for anti-state activity this year in Vietnam, where the one-party communist state attempts to keep a tight reign on media outlets.
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