Vietnam says Facebook violated controversial cybersecurity law

The information ministry is also considering taxing Facebook for advertising revenue from the platform. (Shutterstock)
Updated 09 January 2019
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Vietnam says Facebook violated controversial cybersecurity law

  • Despite economic reforms and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam’s Communist Party retains tight media censorship
  • Facebook had refused to provide information on “fraudulent accounts” to Vietnamese security agencies

HANOI: Facebook has violated Vietnam’s new cybersecurity law by allowing users to post anti-government comments on the platform, state media said on Wednesday, days after the controversial legislation took effect in the communist-ruled country.
Despite economic reforms and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam’s Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate dissent.
“Facebook had reportedly not responded to a request to remove fanpages provoking activities against the state,” the official Vietnam News Agency said, citing the Ministry of Information and Communication.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.
The ministry said Facebook also allowed personal accounts to upload posts containing “slanderous” content, anti-government sentiment and defamation of individuals and organizations, the agency added.
“This content had been found to seriously violate Vietnam’s Law on cybersecurity” and government regulations on the management, provision and use of Internet services, it quoted the ministry as saying.
Global technology companies and rights groups have earlier said the cybersecurity law, which took effect on Jan. 1 and includes requirements for technology firms to set up local offices and store data locally, could undermine development and stifle innovation in Vietnam.
Company officials have privately expressed concerns that the new law could make it easier for the authorities to seize customer data and expose local employees to arrest.
Facebook had refused to provide information on “fraudulent accounts” to Vietnamese security agencies, the agency said in Wednesday’s report.
The information ministry is also considering taxing Facebook for advertising revenue from the platform.
The report cited a market research company as saying $235 million was spent on advertising on Facebook in Vietnam in 2018, but that Facebook was ignoring its tax obligations there.
In November, Vietnam said it wanted half of social media users on domestic social networks by 2020 and plans to prevent “toxic information” on Facebook and Google.


Despite setbacks, Arab summit at media forefront

Updated 20 January 2019
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Despite setbacks, Arab summit at media forefront

  • Japanese journalist says they have to cover the summit because the Mideast region is too important for Japan
  • TV, print and radio journalists were given the necessary equipment and space to allow constant reporting of the summit’s opening remarks

BEIRUT: Journalists from across the world gathered in Lebanon’s Beirut Waterfront to cover the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit on Sunday despite the tumultuous days leading up to the event.

It was not just Arab and Middle Eastern journalists who were present at the summit’s official media center; reporters from Japan, Europe and the US were also in attendance. 

There were conflicting reports on the number of journalists attending, ranging from 600 to double that. The summit’s official spokesman Dany Najim said 1,200 journalists covered the event. 

In addition to journalists working with news organizations and institutions were those traveling as part of country delegations. 

The Arab League sent 11 journalists, while official numbers put an average of 10 journalists per delegation. 

“We must cover the summit. The region is very important to us. It’s where we buy oil and gas,” said a Japanese journalist.

TV, print and radio journalists were given the necessary equipment and space to allow constant reporting of the summit’s opening remarks. While they were placed in a hall adjacent to the main summit meeting room, two large screens were continuously airing the summit’s activities and talks.

Rigid security protocols were in place for the safety of attending delegations. Roads starting from Beirut’s Phoenicia Hotel in Minet Al-Hosn district all the way to Al-Nahar newspaper’s offices in Martyrs’ Square were closed as part of a security zone. 

Transportation of journalists was organized by the summit, where a bus was available round the clock to pick them up and take them to the Monroe Hotel — the media hub for the summit — in Minet Al-Hosn, before taking another bus to the Beirut Waterfront.

Several stores and restaurants were forced to shut for the days of the summit, while some issued mass text messages to the public to announce that they will stay open.

This is the fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit. The previous ones were hosted by Kuwait in 2009, Egypt in 2011, and Saudi Arabia in 2013.