Imagine it being illegal to post anything online without using your real name. For Internet users in Vietnam, that could be reality in about six weeks.
On Wednesday, the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications announced a draft decree of sweeping Internet restrictions.
Viet Tan, a U.S.-based pro-democracy movement, condemned the decree, using language familiar to opponents of Internet rights activists in the West.
“The language in this document is vague and ill-defined, leading to multiple interpretations and possible arbitrary implementation by authorities,” a Viet Tan representative wrote.
In addition to outlawing pseudonyms, Viet Tan warns that the new decree severely cracks down on bloggers who might anger the Vietnamese government. New websites will have to “be approved by authorities,” and foreign companies that refuse to abide by government censorship laws, such as Google and Facebook, might be banned outright.
Reporters Without Borders, an international nonprofit agency that advocates freedom of the press, said it independently verified Viet Tan’s claims. The decree would “criminalize any [online] expression of dissident views,” RWD reported.
It added that the decree would also force each blog to post its owners’ contact information.
Vietnam is already one of 12 countries labeled an “Enemy of the Internet” by RWB.
Eighteen anti-government bloggers are currently incarcerated in Vietnamese prisons. By RWB’s count, only China and Iran have jailed more of its citizens for online activity.
Photo by jurvetson