New Vietnam law criticized by Internet companies and rights groups

The U.S. government has also criticized the new decree

Internet companies and rights groups have criticized a new Internet law in Vietnam that will put curbs on bloggers and social media.

A restriction on the use of blogs and social networks to only exchanging personal information and bans on using these media to share information from news sources will deprive the Vietnamese "of the independent and outspoken information that normally circulates in blogs and forums," said Reporters Without Borders.

The Asia Internet Coalition, an industry association formed by eBay, Facebook, Google and Yahoo, said Monday it was disappointed with the Vietnam Internet Management Decree, also referred to as Decree 72, that was recently passed by the government of Vietnam.

Decree 72 (Decree 72/2013-ND-CP) requires Internet companies and other providers of information to Internet users in Vietnam to cooperate with the government to enforce the prohibition of a range of vaguely-defined acts of expression, said the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights. The prohibited acts could include opposing the " the Socialist Republic of Vietnam," undermining "the grand unity of the people", and damaging 'the prestige of organizations and the honour and dignity of individuals," it added.

"It is unfortunate that the Vietnamese government has decided to take a restrictive policy approach towards the management of the Internet," AIC said, while warning that the new decree will stifle innovation and discourage businesses from operating in Vietnam.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam said that "Decree 72 appears to be inconsistent with Vietnam's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as its commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." The embassy said that it was concerned by the decree's provisions that appear to limit the types of information individuals can share through personal social media accounts and on websites.

Vietnam persecutes bloggers and others online, according to Reporters Without Borders. It has launched an online petition for the release of 35 bloggers currently detained in the country. The Vietnam government could not be immediately reached for comment. The decree reportedly comes into effect from September 1.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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