HANOI Aug 6 Vietnam rejected criticism by the
United States and leading internet firms like Google
and Yahoo! on Tuesday over a controversial internet
decree it said had been misunderstood and did not breach human
The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and a coalition of major internet
groups derided Vietnam's Decree 72, which takes effect on Sept.
1, saying it curbed freedom of speech and restricted information
people can share on social media.
The law demands all foreign websites have at least one
server in Vietnam, which would give greater control of content
to a government that media freedom watchdog Reporters Without
Borders has described as an "enemy of the internet".
The Asia Internet Coalition, formed by eBay,
Facebook, Google and Yahoo!, said the decree would
"negatively affect Vietnam's Internet ecosystem" and deter
Vietnam has repeatedly come under fire for its harsh
treatment and long jail terms for bloggers who dare to criticize
the one-party communist regime. It comes as internet penetration
soars in a country where a third of the estimated 90 million
population have web access.
The U.S. Embassy said it was "deeply concerned" and the
decree's provisions "appear to limit the types of information
individuals can share via personal social media accounts and on
Its statement was referring to a vaguely worded article of
the decree that Vietnam's Ministry of Information and
Communications said had been misinterpreted as a ban on sharing
links to news articles.
"We never ban people from sharing information or linking
news from websites. It was totally misunderstood," Nguyen Thanh
Huyen, head of the ministry's Online Information Section, told
"This is a normal decree which doesn't go against any human
right commitments," she said, adding that particular article was
aimed at protecting intellectual property and copyright.
The decree, however, does still outlaw the posting of
content on the internet that harms national security and opposes
the state. It does not elaborate on what constitutes a breach.
Reporters Without Borders on Monday called on Vietnam to end
internet censorship and release 35 imprisoned bloggers. It said
the motive of the authorities was to avert an uprising of the
kind that toppled regimes in the Arab world.
"Vietnamese authorities have been cracking down harder in
order to suppress dissent and prevent any detribalization," it
said in a petition circulated online.