Vietnam’s draconian cybersecurity bill comes into effect

Vietnam’s new cybersecurity law requires Internet companies to remove content the government regards as ‘toxic’. (AFP)
Updated 01 January 2019

Vietnam’s draconian cybersecurity bill comes into effect

  • The new cybersecurity law has received sharp criticism from the US, the EU and Internet freedom advocates
  • The law requires Internet companies to remove content the government regards as ‘toxic’

HANOI: A law requiring Internet companies in Vietnam to remove content communist authorities deem to be against the state came into effect Tuesday, in a move critics called “a totalitarian model of information control.”
The new cybersecurity law has received sharp criticism from the US, the EU and Internet freedom advocates who say it mimics China’s repressive censorship of the Internet.
The law requires Internet companies to remove content the government regards as “toxic.”
Tech giants such as Facebook and Google will also have to hand over user data if asked by the government, and open representative offices in Vietnam.
The communist country’s powerful Ministry of Public Security (MPS) published a draft decree on how the law may be implemented in November, giving companies which offer Internet service in Vietnam up to 12 months to comply.
MPS has also said the bill was aimed at staving off cyber-attacks — and weeding out “hostile and reactionary forces” using the Internet to stir up violence and dissent, according to a transcript of a question-and-answer session with lawmakers in October.
In response to the law, which was approved by Vietnam’s rubber-stamp parliament last June, Facebook said they are committed to protecting the rights of its users and enabling people to express themselves freely and safely.
“We will remove content that violates (Facebook’s) standards when we are made aware of it,” Facebook said in an emailed statement to AFP, adding that the social media giant has a clear process to manage requests from governments around the world.
Hanoi has said Google is taking steps to open up an office in Vietnam to comply with the new law.
In response to AFP’s request for comment, the Internet giant said it would not comment at this stage.
The law also bans Internet users in Vietnam from spreading information deemed to be anti-state, anti-government or use the Internet to distort history and “post false information that could cause confusion and damage to socio-economic activities.”
Critics say online freedom is shrinking under a hardline administration that has been in charge since 2016.
Dozens of activists have been jailed at a pace not seen in years.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the communist authorities to revise the law and postpone its implementation.
“This law is designed to further enable the Ministry of Public Security’s pervasive surveillance to spot critics, and to deepen the Communist Party’s monopoly on power,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of HRW said.
The law comes into force a week after Vietnam’s Association of Journalists announced a new code of conduct on the use of social media by its members, forbidding reporters to post news, picture and comments that “run counter to” the state.
Daniel Bastard of Reporters Without Borders decried the new requirements for journalists and the cybersecurity law, calling it “a totalitarian model of information control.”
Vietnam wants to build a reputation as a Southeast Asian hub for fintech.
Critics warn the new Internet law — particularly the data-sharing element — will make start-ups think twice about relocating to the country.


Frankly Speaking: Arab News premieres first talkshow with former PM of Pakistan

Updated 28 November 2020

Frankly Speaking: Arab News premieres first talkshow with former PM of Pakistan

  • Hosted by veteran journalist Frank Kane, program will interview movers and shakers, world policymakers
  • Each episode of the program is 20 minutes, with occasional additional reporting and interviews to be included throughout

LONDON: Arab News, the region’s leading English-language Middle East newspaper, is proud to announce its latest video product: “Frankly Speaking,” a recorded show that will interview and challenge movers and shakers, world policymakers and influential deciders on topics relating to the Arab world.

Hosted by veteran, award-winning journalist and senior Arab News business columnist, Frank Kane, who has interviewed influential business leaders and key politicians from around the world including Emirati tycoon, Khalaf Al-Habtoor, president of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Borge Brende, and Anthony Scaramucci, the former communications adviser to US President Donald Trump.

Each episode of the program is 20 minutes, with occasional additional reporting and interviews to be included throughout.

 

 

“Frankly Speaking” will be available on Arab New’s YouTube channel and on the program page on the Arab News website.

Commenting on the launch, Arab News Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas said: “As the leading English language news source on Saudi Arabia and Middle East, it was only natural for Arab News to expand its video offering and we are very proud to present 'Frankly Speaking' as our first product for our followers worldwide.”

“While editorial integrity can only be proven, the combination of the credibility of both the Arab News brand and the long experience and interview style of Frank Kane will ensure that each episode provides an intellectually stimulating debate and plenty of material for further discussion,” he said.

 

 

The first episode of “Frankly Speaking” launches on Saturday at 5 p.m. Riyadh time (2 p.m. GMT) and will feature former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who will talk about his own recipe for change in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia’s reforms, the difference between Islamabad’s relationship with Iran and with Saudi Arabia, as well as his views on Israel.