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US ambassador, MoIC discuss internet freedoms

Update: March, 22/2017 - 18:59
Illustrative Photo.
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI  Minister of Information and Communication (MoIC) Trương Minh Tuấn has asked the US ambassador to Việt Nam, Ted Osius, to encourage internet giants Google and Facebook to open offices in Việt Nam “to easily work through issues regarding compliance with Vietnamese law.”

The request was amongst the highlights of Tuesday’s meeting between MoIC and the US Embassy, held in the capital city. The discussion aimed to “promote co-operation, information and communication,” and to address lingering issues of mutual concerns.

The meeting came after the Vietnamese Government accused YouTube of promoting and linking to videos that contain anti-government information in mainstream videos. The government therefore called for all companies operating in the country to halt and review their advertisement configurations on YouTube, Facebook and other social media websites.

The US ambassador maintains that it’s not easy to balance between ensuring internet freedom and enforcing legal compliance in many countries, including the US. He said that a number of nations, such as China and Pakistan, have issued stringent internet regulations that run counter to US-based enterprises’ values, forcing those companies to do business elsewhere.

However, he shared the view that multinationals like Google and Facebook should be encouraged to boost their investment in Việt Nam.

On the Việt Nam side, Minister Tuấn argued that Việt Nam has “a different approach” regarding internet regulations compared to its neighbour, China. Currently, nearly 80 per cent of the population get access to internet, Việt Nam is committed to beefing up its internet infrastructure, allowing for easier and faster access to online resources, Tuấn said.

He said the Government’s view is that promoting internet access is essential to ensuring the public’s “rights to information.” However, it is also important to consider “the public need to be protected against malicious content that adversely affect morale, traditions, social and public order.”

Tuấn praised Facebook, which currently enjoys 52 million Vietnamese accounts, as a “useful channel for online interactions.” However, he also said transboundary social media services make it easier for fake news and other malicious content to spread. Therefore, the MoIC’s regulation requires foreign service providers operating in Việt Nam to remove “violating content” as per existing laws.

“We don’t seek to curb operations of Google or any other foreign service providers into Việt Nam, only the violations,” Tuấn said, responding to US ambassador’s concerns over new regulations, like Resolution 72 or Circular 38, that may restrict freedom of information.

The MoIC claimed that it has identified some 8,000 “toxic” clips on YouTube and has filed requests to YouTube to block and remove these clips. However, only 40 clips have been handled, it said.

The US ambassador also requested the Vietnamese Government to punish movie-sharing websites – namely, Putlocker, 123movies, and Kisscartoon – that have committed egregious violations of US products’ intellectual property rights.

Also at the meeting, the US ambassador said the US pledged its commitment to collaborate with Việt Nam to build ‘smart cities’ in the country, starting with recent and future meetings with officials of Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng, HCM City, Quảng Ninh, and Hải Phòng.

The two sides also expect to organise more conferences and workshops to share best practices for online businesses and services in the digital era.  VNS




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