Vietnam to block access for users who share ‘illegal’ content

Vietnam plans tighter internet control with rules for ISPs to block users sharing illegal content.

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The Vietnamese government drafted rules to collaborate with internet service providers (ISPs) to block users who share content that is deemed illegal. It would require social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook to block illegal posts. Essentially, this action adds to existing internet restrictions in the country, where around 1,000 websites, including the BBC and Freedom House, are blocked.

According to the Open Observatory of Network Interference, a non-profit organisation tracking online censorship blocked websites in Vietnam are related to politics, news outlets, human rights, pornography, and government websites from other countries, especially those with military content. Additionally, the Open Observatory Network Interference researched 2,054 websites and found that 1,108 were inaccessible on certain networks, believing that the country’s ISPs may be filtering content that criticises the current government.

Lawyer Vu Yen stated that if the decree is approved, cloud and internet providers might be required to withdraw their services from individuals and organisations as directed by the state. Yen also highlighted that this would necessitate a transition period and potential technical improvements, including better data storage and security, effective processing of takedown requests, and enhanced content moderation capabilities.

Why does it matter?

The proposal of the draft rules has raised concerns over the implications on the right to access information and internet, as well as free speech. The digital rights non-profit organisation, Access Now stressed that such draft rules are too vague and unnecessary considering the already existing regulations that censor content. Access Now also highlighted that there do not appear to be other countries that force ISPs to revoke users.