Vietnam reserves right to block ‘toxic’ Internet content: circular

Vietnamese authorities will maintain the right to block online content deemed ‘toxic’ should providers fail to cooperate, according to a new circular on transboundary information.

Video sharing site Youtube is seen on the background of a smartphone user.

Vietnamese authorities will maintain the right to block online content deemed ‘toxic’ should providers fail to cooperate, according to a new circular on transboundary information.

The Circular, issued by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications, serves as a legal basis to purge Vietnam’s Internet of “ill-intended and toxic” information, according to Le Quang Tu Do, deputy director of the country’s Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information.

Websites, social media and mobile applications provided by foreign entities that have a Vietnamese user base, or businesses that base their servers in Vietnam, all fall into the Circular’s scope of governance, Do said.

The Circular enables Vietnamese authorities to demand the taking down of toxic information as well as the ability to block such content should their providers fail to follow any request, Do stressed.

Among content defined as ‘toxic’ is anti-government propaganda; information that is detrimental to national security, social order and solidarity; and the promotion of war, terrorism and racial and religious discrimination, according to a 2013 government resolution.

Websites and social media pages with monthly traffic of over one million visitors are required to provide their contact details to Vietnamese authorities and cooperate in preventing the dissemination of distorted or harmful content as requested.

These include but are not limited to sites such as Facebook, Google and YouTube, which have a large user base in Vietnam, Do said.

“If violating content is found, relevant authorities will notify the responsible foreign entity, requesting their cooperation,” Do said, explaining the procedure of handling toxic information.

“They are to respond within 24 hours, after which time a second notification will be sent. If they fail to take action within the next 24 hours, necessary measures will be carried out by the relevant authorities.”

In the case of a piece of information that poses a direct threat to Vietnam’s national interests, Vietnamese authorities have the right to immediately impose technical measures to block access to it from within Vietnam, before sending a notice to the responsible entities, Do said.

The block will only be lifted after said entities have followed Vietnam's requests with regard to the content, Do added.

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