Internet Freedom Issues in Vietnam

This article details the problems with Internet censorship in Vietnam on the heels of Hillary Clinton’s visit to the country in August. The developing nation has the fastest growing Internet population in Asia, with one in three now online and two to three million new users a year are expected. This is a promising development for the nation, with the government recognizing the Internet as “an integral part of the ‘knowledge era’ the country must enter if economic development is to be sustained.”

However, the growth of the Internet has led to complications with the restrictive communist government. The government introduced a law in April that would greatly regulate internet activity and prevent bloggers from posting anonymously. An incident occurred in July in which the mother of an Internet blogger set herself on fire in front of the People’s Committee office to protest her daughter’s arrest for posting critically about sensitive national issues regarding police abuses. This present an interesting dilemma that bears thinking about this semester as we learn about ICT for Development. While the infrastructure and technology may be put in place in developing countries, there is the extra challenge to make sure that the internet and other technologies are used to their full potential, despite restrictive governments attempts to regulate Internet freedom. Not only do developers have to put the technologies in place, they also must worry about them being used properly and to their full potential.

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6 responses to “Internet Freedom Issues in Vietnam

  • ecowle

    I found this article that ranks internet censorship among different countries. Made by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), the data uses four categories, political, social, security, and internet tools, to rank countries’ current filtering into categories ranging from “No evidence of filtering” to “Pervasive filtering.” Here you can see that Vietnam earned a ranking of pervasive filtering in regards to political content.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/datablog/2012/apr/16/internet-censorship-country-list

  • twkelly

    I really like how this article touches on a few different concepts that we have discussed in class this week. Firstly, the fact that Vietnam could have an additional 2-3 million Internet users in the next year is amazing. It shows how quickly ICT progress can occur which is a very comforting thought for our future. Also, I find internet censorship to be a very interesting topic. One would think that full disclosure on the Internet would be very beneficial for a country that admittedly needs to become a “knowledge society”. It seems a bit contradictory. Hopefully the Vietnamese government will be able to overcome their desire for internet censorship to speed development and set an example for other countries across the globe that are facing a similar dilemma.

  • ewaller11

    This is an interesting point to make and I feel like Vietnam is commonly overlooked in terms of censorship. It’s important to note that Vietnam’s proximity to China has a noticeable effect on its media policies. Recently, China pressured the Vietnamese government to arrest two Vietnamese citizens, living in Vietnam, for broadcasting “anti-Chinese government propaganda” into China.

  • pboetefu

    I think this is a very interesting topic and brings up a lot of important and difficult questions. Obviously the points you and other classmates have made about just providing ICT not being enough and the difficulties of censorship are excellent points. But this also brings up an important question about where we should draw the line between a nations soverignty and the international communities duty to intervene. Is it the ICT4D community’s job to ensure that appropriate internet free access laws are in place with the development of this ICT? Is it Vietnam’s own problem that needs to be dealt with by citizens demanding the government cease their censorship? Or is it the international community’s responsibility to step in on the grounds of human rights? Is this a domestic issue or an international one? A development/ICT problem or a human rights/political issue? If people are willing to go to extreme measures and set themselves on fire in protest will this be enough for the Vietnamese government to make changes? And if they don’t, do we have a responsibility to uphold?

  • megstanger

    Censorship is a very interesting dilemma in a growing technological world. In terms of ICT’s in Vietnam, how will the overall use of ICT’s change if censorship increases? Do all the positive development initiatives that can be made possible with the use of ICT’s override the negative effects of something like a woman setting herself on fire in a government protest? I think the positives would outweigh the negatives.

  • npham2

    Censorship has always been a major problem in Vietnam. There has been way more censorship “procedures” by the government than this. It is just coming to the surface now as the Vietnamese government pushes forward to the international world with an image of a “more developed and progressive nation.” However, we must keep in mind that the government is nothing like the US and other European countries.

    Vietnam is one of the fastest growing Southeast Asian countries in terms of economics, development, and technology. It has a very high rate of internet and cell phone users due to its large younger population. The issue of censorship there is just beginning to take center stage. It is bound to increase as the younger generations push for more freedom and become influenced to European countries.

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