Vietnam is ranked 172nd out of 179 countries in the ‘2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom index,’ has recently increased the number of harsh sentences on writers and artists who create work which the government finds unacceptable1. In Vietnam, bloggers have been targeted, resulting in increased numbers of arrests, as any form of protest or dissent against the government or its relationship with other countries such as China are quickly repressed2. In addition to blocking sites such as Facebook, Vietnam’s government relies on cyberattacks and spyware to silence dissenting opinions among bloggers and Internet users, and to steal their IDs and passwords3. The country has also issued an order for cybercafés to install government-supplied software, which would serve to block access to certain websites and set up surveillance of users’ Internet activities3.
In 2011, the Vietnamese government adopted a decree regulating the behavior of journalists and bloggers who post information which is “unauthorized” or not the interests of the people”3. With at least 17 Vietnamese bloggers behind bars, Vietnam has the second-worst record of jailing Internet users in the world, after China4. After recent cyberattacks in Vietnam, computer security company McAfee stated: “We believe that the perpetrators may have political motivations and may have some allegiance to the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”3. In response to these draconian policies, it is unsurprising that many journalists, writers, and artists practice self-censorship for fear of being arrested for posting about “sensitive” topics3.
1 “2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index.” Reporters Without Borders. 25 Jan 2012. Web. Accessed 24 Mar 2013. http://en.rsf.org/IMG/CLASSEMENT_2012/C_GENERAL_ANG.pdf
2 “Vietnam.” Reporters Without Borders. 12 Mar 2012. Web. Accessed 24 Mar 2013. http://en.rsf.org/vietnam-vietnam-12-03-2012,42048.html
3 “Internet Enemies: Vietnam.” Reporters Without Borders. 11 Mar 2011. Web. Accessed 24 Mar 2013. http://en.rsf.org/vietnam-vietnam-11-03-2011,39763.html
4 Cain, Geoffrey. “Vietnam: Free Expression in Freefall.” Xindex. 6 Sep 2012. Web. Accessed 24 Mar 2013. http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2012/09/vietnam-free-expression-in-free-fall/