Vietnam introduces fines for citizens who criticize the government on social media

Vietnam introduces fines for citizens who criticize the government on social media

Vietnam’s government is cracking down on Internet freedom (or whatever little there was of it in the first place) in the country — after it introduced a fine of 100 million dong ($4,740) for anyone who criticizes the government on social media.

The new law was announced this week, Reuters reports. Some types of comments are classified as a criminal offense, which can see the person responsible slapped with a jail sentence. Even if people make comments that don’t constitute criminal offenses, they may be fined if these comments are determined to be “propaganda against the state”, or spreading “reactionary ideology,” according to the law, which was reportedly signed off by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

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This follows up from a decree that the government rolled out in September this year, which stipulates that blogs and social media profiles belonging to individuals and businesses should contain personal information only — effectively banning people from broadcasting opinions around current affairs on the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

Other than the fine being introduced for such social media-related comments, Vietnam’s government is also laying out new regulations for operating an e-commerce site in the country, Tech in Asia reports.

If a company doesn’t have a license to carry out e-commerce and fails to report service changes on its site, it could be fined anything from $200 to $1000. If the site operator posts incorrect and/or falsified information, a $1,000 to $1,400 fine looms.

Vietnam is already not known for perpetuating much freedom of expression, but these moves to get a hold on Internet activities are a cause for concern — as they could lead to a much more difficult online environment, and could turn off foreign businesses wanting to expand into the country.

Headline image via Shutterstock

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