|Lieutenant General, Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Xuân Yêm, Director of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security at the Vietnam National University, Hà Nội. — Photo vov.vn|
HÀ NỘI — Freedom of the press and opinions and the use of social networks in Việt Nam are in line with the development of the world and the region as well as the development of the country.
Every year, the US-based Freedom House publishes a report on internet freedom in more than 60 countries around the world. In particular, this organisation has repeatedly classified Việt Nam in the group of countries without internet freedom. This is a biased assessment that does not reflect what is actually happening in Việt Nam, according to Lieutenant General, Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Xuân Yêm, Director of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security at the Vietnam National University, Hà Nội.
Since 2020, Việt Nam has focused resources on the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic. On e-newspapers, and especially social networks, there are many opinions, initiatives, thoughts and aspirations that all the classes of people have sent to Party and State leaders. The leaders have gathered these opinions so that COVID-19 prevention and control policies are promptly adjusted and perfected.
Yêm emphasised that everyone can see the freedom to express opinions and to use social networks in Việt Nam. If someone says Việt Nam “prevents or strangles citizenship”, it is completely untrue.
According to the professor, Việt Nam is one of the countries with the highest internet usage and development speed in the world. After over 20 years since the internet first came to the country in 1997, Việt Nam counts more than 60 million internet users, of which Facebook alone has nearly 50 million users. The State also creates favourable conditions to form some of its own social networks or links between Việt Nam and other countries, for example, Zalo, Viber, and Zingme. That shows social networks are very popular in Việt Nam.
In the context of social distancing imposed to fight the pandemic, the Party and State created maximum conditions for the people to use the internet and social networks to work and learn online. Far-flung areas have also gained access to the internet, reflected through the “Sóng và Máy tính cho em” campaign (Telecommunications services and computers for students) to assist students’ online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regarding national security, Yêm said that the world is paying more attention to cyberspace, along with national sovereignty related to political institutions, land, airspace and waters.
Each country, including Việt Nam, has established sovereignty over its cyberspace, he stressed.
The Law on Cyber Security and the Law on Information Safety of Việt Nam clearly define that any act of using social networks to violate the country's cyberspace sovereignty will be handled in accordance with regulations, from criminal to administrative sanctions. Yêm said that citizens have the right to express their opinions and aspirations on social networks. However, it must be ensured that such opinions do not infringe upon the interests of the State, the society, and citizens, including their own interests.
At present, information on cyberspace is sometimes disturbed and used for malicious purposes.
Therefore, the officer stressed the importance of controlling the use of social networks and expanding the coverage of mainstream news so as to prevent fake reports.
It is necessary for each individual to screen information by themselves to keep them away from wrongful and fake news, he added.
Speaking at a conference in late 2021, Nguyễn Thanh Lâm, Director of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC)’s Authority of Press, said that it is urgent to have codes of conduct for using social networks and managing public relations, calling for strengthening the specialised system for handling public relations, legal issues and media crises in each sector and locality.
According to him, Việt Nam now has 850 print and online news publications, 67 radio and television stations and thousands of news websites, with more than 20,000 licensed journalists. This is not to say about tens of millions of social network accounts, including 50 million Facebook users.
With a multimedia world today, nothing can be hidden, he said, adding that anyone can be a source of information with just a social network account and a smartphone. Any actions or behaviours of individuals and organisations can be seen via posts, comments, photos and live videos on social media and turned into media crises, he noted. — VNS