A new government decree aimed at tightening control over the use of Internet of local citizens has ignited a storm of protests from netizens, who believe that the law will ban them from sharing links on their Facebook or personal blogs.
Some other meanwhile have a more thorough view on the issue, saying people misunderstood the new regulation due to ambiguous wording used by lawmakers.
The decree in question, coded 72/2013/ND-CP, signed by the Prime Minister on July 15 and announced on Wednesday, will take effect September 1.
The 20.4 clause of the decree stipulates that “personal information webpage is a webpage created by individual on their own or via a social network. This page should be used to provide and exchange information of that individual only; it does not represent other individual or organization, and is not allowed to provide compiled information.”
While people may be confused by what is described as “compiled information” in the decree, newswire VnExpress quoted Hoang Vinh Bao, head of the Broadcast and Electronic Information Department, as explaining that the ban on providing compiled information means that “individuals should not quote or share information from press agencies or websites of government agencies.”
“Individuals are allowed to share and provide information about themselves on their webpage,” Bao said.
Speaking at a press briefing to announce the decree on Wednesday, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang said the rule is to prevent misusing of the Internet to spread false information.
“Personal webpage owners are only allowed to provide their own information, and are prohibited from taking news from media agencies and using that information as if it were their own,” Thang told reporters.
The quite confusing wording of the decree plus the explanation of the people with knowledge on the matter have sent many to believe that they will only be able to talk about themselves on their Facebook or blog, rather than sharing news they see interesting with their online friends.
“Does it mean that I will be deemed violating the law when I share an article from a newswire on my Facebook?” a reader named Hung commented on VnExpress.
However, Nguyen Van Phu, a seasoned journalist and general secretary of a business journal, does not think so.
He said on a Facebook status on Thursday that people should address the issue by reading through the entire Decree No.72.
“By doing so, you will see that the ban is also applicable for webpage of the organizations (like businesses, companies) and industries (like banking and telecom),” Phu wrote.
“As far as I understand, it is to ban all of the three types of such webpage from quoting, or fully citing news stories from the official sources of news, in a bid to curb the copyright infringements that several newswires have recently been accused of.”
He thus concluded that there is no regulation that “bans local Facebook users from quoting a few words of an article and sharing its link on their pages.”