Officials in a province in southern Vietnam have ordered the removal of a ban on the use of certain Facebook features, which some claimed was meant to prevent violations of the law and enhance work productivity, following public protests.
The People’s Committee of Chau Doc City, which is located in An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta, demanded that the local Bureau of Education and Training stop prohibiting its officials, teachers, and students from liking, commenting on, and sharing posts related to politics, religion, policy and statuses that offend others, according to news website VnExpress.
That ban is not supported by the law, according to Tran Quoc Tuan, vice chairman of the Chau Doc People’s Committee.
It started to be enforced on November 2, when the Chau Doc Bureau of Education and Training issued a document specifying the prohibition to those schools under its management.
The regulation also requested schools in the city to bar the use of social media for personal entertainment during working hours.
The sole purpose of the overturned ban was to prevent people from unintentionally violating the law while using social networking sites and to help them pay more attention to their work in order to improve productivity, Nguyen Thi Hong Loan, head of the bureau, explained.
It was intended to serve as a tool to raise people’s awareness of state legislation regarding the use of social media sites, according to the An Giang Department of Information and Communications.
However, the document has met with strong opposition from the public, as it was exaggerated and not legally supported, the Chau Doc People’s Committee said.
The dispatch was an encroachment on basic human rights, including freedom of speech and information, mentioned in Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution, lawyer Truong Thanh Duc from the Hanoi Bar Association underlined.
On November 14, three people from An Giang Province were penalized, two of whom were fined US$223 each, for allegedly badmouthing the chairman of the An Giang People’s Committee on Facebook.
The case has created concern among the public community as the punishment was thought to be overly severe.