Internet Censorship in Vietnam and Punishment for Cybercrimes

Countries Mar 16, 2021

The government regulates Internet access in Vietnam at two levels: legal and technical. The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Public Security are responsible for the legal aspect. They make sure that there is no sexual, violent, or politically sensitive content on the Internet.

The CCP's network access control program is called Bamboo Firewall. It looks like a light version of the Great Firewall of China. The difference is that more foreign apps can be accessed in Vietnam.

All domestic and foreign citizens and organizations that engage in Vietnam's online activities are legally responsible for creating, distributing, and storing content.

Therefore, bloggers in Vietnam are controlled at the state level. Yahoo 360 was a major blogging platform, but after the 2008 crisis, when journalists covered corruption and criticized the CCP's actions, the Ministry of Information proposed new rules restricting the ability to discuss socio-political topics on blogs and limiting them to personal matters only.

In 2010, the government also ordered all organizations offering free WiFi to install tracking software. In 2013, the distribution of materials that could harm national security or oppose the government was prohibited. Social media and blogging platforms were the only places where people could share their personal opinion. However, three years later, the three leading blogging platforms: Blogger, WordPress, and Twitter, were blocked in Vietnam.

According to the Vietnamese government, such Internet censorship law aims to increase cybersecurity and attract more investors. However, the government monitors the content posted on social media and asks organizations to remove government offensive content within 24 hours. Otherwise, companies will be fined. The government also asks organizations with more than 10,000 Vietnamese users to open local offices in Vietnam and host local servers.

Now Vietnamese opinion leaders have no right to publish socio-political posts in their blogs. The publication of prohibited materials carries a penalty of six months to seven years in prison.