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Vietnam Internet sharing ban comes into effect

Vietnamese Internet users are no longer able to discuss current affairs after a new law banning the practice came into effect earlier today.

Decree 72 includes clause 20.4 that makes it the law that blogs and social networks cannot be used to share news stories and can only be utilised for the exchange of other more personal information.

The law states that social networks such as Facebook and Twitter can only be used "to provide and exchange personal information" and the publication of any material that “opposes” the country’s government or “harms national security” is also banned.

In addition the decree makes any foreign Internet companies operating in the country locate their local servers within Vietnam.

Reporters Without Borders, a French group that fights for press freedom worldwide, stated that the decree is “both nonsensical and extremely dangerous”.

“Its implementation will require massive and constant government surveillance of the entire Internet, an almost impossible challenge. But, at the same time, it will reinforce the legislative arsenal available to the authorities,” the group stated on its website.

Vietnam’s move is part of a wider move to crackdown on discord in the Asian country with the communist administration becoming increasingly irritable when it comes to social media and Internet usage.

Most of the 46 people arrested for breaking political dissent laws earlier this year were bloggers, including Pham Viet Dao, who was responsible for a blog that was critical of the government and its policies.

When the plans were originally outlines they were roundly criticised by Internet companies, including Google, and the US government as being too constrictive.

Google, Facebook and the US Embassy in Hanoi helped persuade the Vietnamese government to tone down the original plans after heavy lobbying. They are still, however, unhappy with the way it has turned out with the same embassy expressing its deep concerns over the new decree.

Image Credit: Flickr (Ivan Lian)