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Social Media Limits in Vietnam Criticized

From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

Internet activists and human rights groups are criticizing an order that requires blogs and social media sites in Vietnam to share personal information only. The order aims to ban social media users and bloggers from posting other information such as news stories. Local media reports say the decree states that such sites are not permitted to quote, gather or summarize information from press organizations or government websites.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved Decree 72 in July. Internet activists say this is an attempt by the communist government to restrict freedom of speech. Rights groups say the decree's requirements are too broad and will be used to act against government critics. Others criticized a statement by Le Nam Thang, the deputy minister of information and communications.

State media reported him as saying that the law aims to help Web users find correct and clean information on the Internet. But one blogger says that is a matter of personal choice. She says people should be able to decide for themselves whether information is good or bad. And she says Vietnamese citizens do not need the government to teach them on how to think.

The decree sets out very broad categories of speech that officials could consider as troublesome. It includes warnings about information that is "against Vietnam" or undermines certain principles. Shawn Crispin is the Southeast Asia representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ. He says the increased restrictions suggest that the government thinks it has lost control of the criticism that is so widespread on social media.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.