With the rising wave of fake news on social media platforms, the debate about how much control a government should have over online information is a perpetual one.
In Vietnam, the government is stepping up its control over the internet regime. The country is formulating new rules to control the spread of news on social media platforms operating in the country, Reuters reported cite sources.
The decision stems from government concerns about users confusing social media accounts with authorized news channels, Reuters said.
While citizens may want the government to provide truly misleading information, the risk of increased regulatory oversight is a loss of freedom by the people.
Vietnam already has one of the world’s most restrictive internet governance regimes and received an “internet freedom score” of 22 out of 100 by the pro-democracy non-profit Freedom House. That makes its internet freedom worse than that of Russia (30/100) and Saudi Arabia (24/100).
Authorities are also weighing new rules that would require social media platforms to remove content that is illegal or that harms national security, Reuters said.
The approach would put the burden on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and popular domestic messenger Zalo to remove unwanted content by authorities.
Vietnam’s restriction on the distribution of news is reminiscent of a recent move by China to crack down on unauthorized news publishers. Last year, Beijing said that social media accounts posting news must have the relevant media licenses. Media accreditation in China is almost exclusively reserved for state-owned companies, meaning the millions of content creators should shun all newsworthy.
Some have compared Vietnam’s grip on the internet to China’s censorship model. When Vietnam rolled out its cybersecurity law in 2021, many saw the Southeast Asian country following in China’s footsteps.
For example, the law requires foreign tech giants such as Facebook and Google to store user data locally and allows the government to block access to content that could be defined as dangerous to national security, similar to the policies implemented in China.
More to come…