Vietnam to fine online critics of government

Vietnam to fine online critics of government

Summary: A new law passed this week will see online users who criticize the Vietnamese government face fines of US$4,740, but the new ruling lacks clarity over what comments would constitute a fine rather than imprisonment.

Vietnam censorship
New law lacks clarity on what comments would yield a fine rather than imprisonment.

Online users in Vietnam who criticize the government will face a fine of US$4,740 after a new law was passed this week. 

In yet another move to curb online dissent, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed the legislation which states online users who make comments that do not constitute criminal offenses, but are deemed to be "propaganda against the state" or spreading "reactionary ideology", will face fines of 100 million dong (US$4,740). 

According to a Reuters report, the new law lacked clarity and did not explain what comments would be labeled a criminal offense and, hence, punishable by imprisonment, or what would be considered an "administrative violation" which would incur a fine. 

This week's announcement is the latest in the Vietnamese government's efforts to clamp down on its critics online, which has seen rapid adoption in the country where a third of its estimated 90 million population now use the Internet. About 20 million have Facebook accounts, according to Reuters, citing stats from a report published at an IT seminar in September. 

The Vietnamese government in August passed a new rule, effective September 1, requiring blogs and social media accounts set up by individuals and businesses to contain only personal information. Under this law, user profiles and social media pages should reflect information about that individual or business, and must not contain data about other individuals or organizations. 

In September 2012, a southern Vietnamese court jailed three bloggers for posting political articles on a banned local site as well as their own blogs, ruling the acts as undermining the country's communist rule.

In addition, the government reportedly was mulling plans to ban mobile messaging apps such as Viber LINE, and WhatsApp, though, it was doing so to protect the revenue of local telcos. 

Topics: Censorship, Government Asia


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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  • The Vietnam government sucks

    Glad I dont live there.
  • Vietnam Government

    That is true of most governments. Eric Holder, IRS NSA, EPA just to name a few of our problems.You give them power and then they grab more. I returned from Vietnam six months ago and had a great time although I did not have to deal with the politicians. We do have the option they don't have, vote the current tyrants out of office.
    Ron Derouen
  • the Vietnam government is becoming fascistic

    the Vietnam government is becoming fascistic
    when the fascistic US government does the same?
    Jiří Pavelec
    • Vietnam has been a Communist dictatorship for a very long time

      North Vietnam was founded in 1945 and under absolute Communist control after 1954. South Vietnam was annexed in 1976. It has never been legal to criticize the Vietnamese government under Communist rule, but if fines are being imposed rather than imprisonment, then it probably represents an improvement over the status quo.

      Free elections might not be as effective a means of popular control as one might like, but they're a lot better than a one party state.
      John L. Ries
      • still murders, surveillance, intimidating, destroying lives

        still murders, surveillance, intimidating, destroying lives....there is no diference between fascism and communism

        ok, the USA fascists are worse according to facts
        Jiří Pavelec
        • Matter of degree

          I know lots of people who routinely badmouth the current U.S. administration, but none of them have disappeared, nor have the politicians they vote for.
          John L. Ries
          • guantanamo ;)

            guantanamo ;)
            doesn't matter if the USA murders or intimidate journalists or the 4400 US soldiers because of intentional lie about mass destruction weapons existence in Iraq....

            still murders
            Jiří Pavelec
          • and yet...

            ...the current administration is criticized in newspapers, television, radio, and digital media all over the country every day. There are even people walking around who very publicly demonstrated against the Iraq War and were covered by US media while doing it. Amazingly enough, Michael Moore made and publicly displayed a documentary that openly accused the Bush Administration of staging the 9/11 attacks, yet that administration never even said "boo" to him. He's still alive and well and is a supporter of the current administration (though a critical one).
            John L. Ries