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Vietnam's Internet is in Trouble (wapo.st) 121

The World Post: Vietnamese authorities have harped of late on the urgency of fighting cybersecurity threats and "bad and dangerous content." Yet the fight against either "fake news" or misinformation in Vietnam must not be used as a smoke screen for stifling dissenting opinions and curtailing freedom of speech [The link may be paywalled]. Doing so would only further stoke domestic cynicism in a country where the sudden expansion of space for free and open discussion has created a kind of high-pressure catharsis online. Other countries, including democratic states, are also scrambling to rein in toxic information online. But while Germany, for example, specifically targets hate speech and other extremist messaging that directly affects the masses, Vietnamese leaders are more fixated on content deemed detrimental to their own reputation and the survival of the regime.

The ruling Communist Party of Vietnam has repeatedly urged Facebook and Google to block "toxic" information that it said slandered and defamed Vietnamese leaders. Google sort of conformed by removing more than such 5,000 clips; Facebook also flagged about 160 anti-government accounts at the behest of the government.

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Vietnam's Internet is in Trouble

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  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @05:06PM (#56154120)
    Is that the government gets to define it. Like Germany where they prohibit speech that they define as hate speech, Vietnam also prohibits speech they define as hate speech.

    The best solution is to not allow the government to prohibit speech, so then there is never an issue with who defines what how.

    I'm not sure how someone having a blog that mentions Hitler and Nazis "directly affects the masses", but I'm sure German officials could answer that.

    • The best solution is to not allow the government to prohibit speech, so then there is never an issue with who defines what how.

      "Ring . . . ring"

      "Hello, Vietnam . . . ? This is Slashdot calling. We just wanted to let you know that we decided that y'all are not allowed to prohibit speech anymore."

      "*click*"

      "Hello . . . ? Hello . . . ?"

    • You can have a blog that mentions Hitler and Nazis as much as you want.
      What has that to do with hate speech?

      • You can have a blog that mentions Hitler and Nazis as much as you want.

        Of course I can. I don't live in Germany.

        Also of course, I should have referred to the use of the swastika and not just a mention of the names. Please continue in that context. (Note that the swastika is a perfect example of "hate speech" being defined by the government. Germany says "it is", Korea says "it isn't".)

        As for those who seem intent on pointing out that Slashdot cannot keep Vietnam from prohibiting speech, yet another "of course". I wrote of the best solution, which isn't necessarily possible,

        • Of course I can. I don't live in Germany.
          Yeah, and what is the point? You also can have it in Germany, dumb ass. Oh sorry :D but that was a dumb ass comment.

          (Note that the swastika is a perfect example of "hate speech" being defined by the government. Germany says "it is", Korea says "it isn't".)
          I'm pretty sure you can use a swastika in a blog, why should you not?

          Here is a blog, explaining why the Swastika is banned https://politische-bildung-bra... [politische...denburg.de]

          Surprisingly it has a Swastika on the first page on the top

    • I agree with you that the best solution is not to allow governments to prohibit speech. But it should be pointed out and Germany and Vietnam actions are not entirely indefensible. The problem is the same thing as with Wikipedia edits. You have a small group of hardcore people who sit on "their" articles, undoing helpful edits by other casual users, and making sure the article reflects what they want it to say rather than what the population at large wants it to say.

      Likewise, the people behind these "h
      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @10:38PM (#56155428) Journal

        I'm not sure what the solution is

        "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." --Justice Sanford [findlaw.com].

        Oppressing speech with censorship, even if the speech is made of lies, will never be effective, and can easily make the problem worse. If good people are not willing to speak up, then there is no hope for the country.

      • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

        I know a guy who believes the govt is run by lizard people... I can't change his mind so, well it's his right.

        I'd rather live in a world with guys like him than a world where nobody could say lizard people existed.

  • Um (Score:4, Funny)

    by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @05:16PM (#56154178)
    Vietnam is a communist dictatorship. I hope Internet censorship doesn't come as some sort of surprise ...
    • Vietnam is a communist dictatorship. I hope Internet censorship doesn't come as some sort of surprise ...

      It's actually a communist oligarchy with a general secretary and ruling party.

    • Vietnam *is* big-C Communist. There are literally big red hammer and sickle banners hanging everywhere.

      However Vietnam is not a dictatorship. There is no paramount leader, no dictator. Rather it's more of a bureaucratic gerontocracy. It's a single-party state, but factions within the Party are tolerated and openly discussed.

      Vietnam is definitely weak on freedom of political speech. However it's also weak on surveillance and oppression. This is *not* a tyranny like Thailand. No one cares if you bad mouth t

  • Vietnam is now our puppet friend in the fight against our biggest rival China. The US will just need to cover up its ears like it does for Saudi Arabia

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Well, the current Administration doesn't need to cover its ears, it cannot hear totalitarian victims very well.

  • by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @05:27PM (#56154242)

    Jesus Christ. Having a well-educated, thoughtful, free, and open society is the remedy against "toxic information"

    Anything else is censorship.

  • Don't worry, guys, Vietnam isn't an example of REAL communism. It's some kind of other thing entirely unrelated.
    No, the socialism that we want here in the West is REAL communism: only right wingers will be sent to the gulags, you see.
  • Soros (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Tailhook ( 98486 )

    The ruling class want FacebookGoogleTwitterEtc regulated to stop "populism." Here [theguardian.com] is Soros using fear to justify putting government minders in control, complete with scary images of eyeballs controlled by corporations and warnings of a Trump dictatorship.

    Everywhere you look leftists and statists are using fear to put themselves in control of the Internet.

    • Note: "the Left" only wants to stop populism when it's against them. Just like "the Right"
    • by Anonymous Coward

      ... images of eyeballs controlled by corporations ...

      Soros is making the prescient point that Facebook/Google/Twitter are monopolies of information and users. In case you didn't know, monopolies are a problem and a worse problem because US law has few objections against monopolies.

      ... warnings of a Trump dictatorship.

      He said the opposite, namely, "the constitution, other institutions, and a vibrant civil society won’t allow it". Trump is acting a lot like Bush junior, who received mush less lamentation and fear. Speaking of which, the one fear-mongering here, is you.

  • Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Monday February 19, 2018 @06:31PM (#56154576) Homepage

    Yet the fight against either "fake news" or misinformation in Vietnam must not be used as a smoke screen for stifling dissenting opinions and curtailing freedom of speech.

    That's what the fight against "fake news" and "misinformation" is used for everywhere else.

  • I find it amusing that the excerpt tries to normalize censorship in places like Germany, while condemning such acts in Vietnam. Censorship is the same, whether it's against hate speech or otherwise.

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