Vietnam Just Implemented The Strictest Online Censorship We’ve Ever Seen


By: Sean Levinson

We’re calling it: the next site of mass protests against a restrictive government will be none other than our old friend Vietnam.

Last Sunday, a new set of Internet-based laws known as Decree 7 went into effect. Decree 7 outlaws a very wide and vague range of online activities and severely limits what Vietnamese citizens can post on Facebook, Twitter and their personal blogs.

Anything that could be interpreted as harmful to national security or anti-government propaganda is now punishable by jail time.

It’s also illegal to quote or link to an outside news source.

Outward opposition of the government on a personal blog has actually already been illegal for some time, and those who disobeyed have been routinely prosecuted.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Vietnam has imprisoned a total of 35 bloggers, the highest number of any country besides China.

But arguably the decree’s most crushing stipulation is the rule that all foreign websites maintain at least one server in Vietnam so the government can always have access to them. It is assumed that this measure will lead to the Vietnamese government simply blocking access to most popular websites.

Reporters Without Borders has urged the rest of the world to impose strict sanctions on Vietnam now that the decree has become a law. The media freedom organization ranks Vietnam 172 out of 179 in its press freedom index.

CBC News reports that Vietnam has been repeatedly criticized by the U.S. in addition to tech companies such as Google and Yahoo! for the controversial decree. The Vietnamese government defended the decree, however, claiming it has been misunderstood and is in no way a breach of human rights.

And you thought Muslim governments were the only regimes trying to bring back World War II-era censorship.