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Asia Minute: Vietnam’s Army of Online Censors

Negative Space / Pexels
Negative Space / Pexels

Criticism of the government is a daily occurrence on line in this country. But that’s not the case everywhere. And leaders in one nation in the Asia Pacific are taking new steps to crack down on views they don’t like. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


Vietnam’s government doesn’t take criticism lightly.

For the past four years, it’s been illegal to even write online about current affairs. And now, Vietnam’s military has deployed an entire division of 10,000 internet censors.

Local media quote the deputy head of the political department of the military as saying the censors are needed because “the enemy takes advantage of the internet to create chaos.”

He says Vietnam’s online community is now nearly two-thirds of its overall population of 90 million adding that “such a strong growth rate does both good and harm to the country.”

Unlike China, the government allows international companies to operate in the space—Vietnam makes Facebook’s top ten list of countries for number of users.

VietnamNet news quotes the Minister of Information and Communications as saying Facebook removed 159 accounts and YouTube pulled down about 45-hundred videos this year—all at the request of the Vietnamese government.

Reporters Without Borders puts Vietnam at number 175 of 180 countries on its 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

That’s between Sudan and China, and just five above the last ranked North Korea.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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