Vietnam ramps up pressure on Google’s YouTube advertisers

The ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship in Vietnam and does not tolerate dissent. (AFP)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Vietnam ramps up pressure on Google’s YouTube advertisers

  • The ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship in Vietnam and does not tolerate dissent
  • Vietnam’s information ministry has identified about 55,000 YouTube videos it deemed in violation of the law

HANOI: Vietnam has asked companies not to advertise on videos hosted by Google’s YouTube that contain “anti-state propaganda,” state media said on Wednesday, as the Southeast Asian country ramps up pressure on global tech giants.
Despite economic reforms and increasing openness to social change, the ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship in Vietnam and does not tolerate dissent.
“Google was found to loosely manage its content, allowing users to buy ads directly from YouTube and Google without the involvement of domestic ad agents,” the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) said, referring to a June 7 announcement by the Ministry of Information and Communication.
The ministry listed several foreign companies, including Samsung Electronics, Huawei Technologies, Yamaha Motors and ride-sharing app Grab, which were found to have advertised on videos containing “illegal and malicious content,” it added.
Vietnam’s information ministry has identified about 55,000 YouTube videos it deemed “harmful,” or in violation of Vietnamese law, the agency said. Of these, 8,000 were deleted at the request of Vietnamese authorities.
“In the near future, the authorities will ask YouTube to identify Vietnamese channels, and only certified ones will be considered for ad revenue sharing,” it added, without elaborating.
A controversial law on cybersecurity took effect in January that requires companies to set up offices in Vietnam and store data there.
Global technology firms and rights groups have pushed back against the law, and some company officials have privately expressed concern it could allow authorities to more easily seize customer data and expose Vietnamese employees to arrest.
In the months before introduction of the law, Facebook increased curbs on content by more than 500 percent in Vietnam, the social media giant said last month.
In January, days after the new law took effect, Vietnam said Facebook had violated it by letting users post anti-government comments.
Vietnam’s information ministry has asked businesses to “actively review” their advertising on social media, VNA said.
“The (information) ministry will work with the State Bank of Vietnam and relevant agencies to closely manage ad revenue flows on YouTube and Google,” it said.


Somali journalists’ body slams police ‘threats’ to shoot reporters

A general view shows people at the scene of a suicide car explosion at a check point near Somali Parliament building in Mogadishu, Somalia June 15, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 June 2019
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Somali journalists’ body slams police ‘threats’ to shoot reporters

  • The SJS called on the Ministry of Information, the commissioner of police and the office of the prime minister to open an investigation, “and take appropriate steps against those responsible”

MOGADISHU: A Somali journalists’ association on Sunday slammed the actions of police who it said threatened to shoot reporters trying to access the scene of a car bombing near Parliament, and warned of a “worsening situation” for the country’s press.
Police at a checkpoint near the site of Saturday’s bombing in Mogadishu, which killed eight people and was claimed by the Al-Shabab militant group, stopped a group of reporters from international news groups, including Al Jazeera’s Jama Nur Ahmed.
“When the journalists tried to explain to the police about their reporting mission, a police officer fired two bullets (in the) air and then pointed his rifle on Jama Nur’s head, according to Jama Nur Ahmed and two other colleagues,” the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) said in a statement.
Also in the group were journalists from Reuters, AFP and the Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, followed by a second wave of reporters who were similarly denied access.
“The journalists said the police officers told them they had orders restricting journalist coverage at the scenes of attacks and threatened that any journalist who tries to film will either be shot dead or his/her equipment will be broken resulting (in) the journalists to return back from the scene,” according to the SJS.
It charged Somali police treat journalists “as criminals,” preventing them from doing their work of reporting on events in the country.
“This is a symptom of a worsening situation against journalists in Somalia.”
It said that on May 14 police confiscated reporters’ equipment, detained a cameraman, and beat up two others trying to report on another Mogadishu explosion.
AFP has documented several incidents in recent months of journalists being intimidated and threatened and their equipment seized while trying to report on Al-Shabab attacks.
The SJS called on the Ministry of Information, the commissioner of police and the office of the prime minister to open an investigation, “and take appropriate steps against those responsible.”
“We call the highest offices of the government including that of the Office of the Prime Minister to intervene in order to for the journalists to report freely and accurately without fear,” said the statement.