Vietnamese should clean up their cybertrash: information minister

By Hoang Thuy   June 6, 2019 | 05:17 am PT
Vietnamese should clean up their cybertrash: information minister
A man uses a mobile phone at a coffee shop in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 18, 2018. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Vietnamese should not create cybertrash and should clean up after themselves online, says Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung.

"In the real world, we breathe in air. In cyberspace, we breathe in news and online content. In the real world, we have thousands of tons of trash, which adversely affect our health if we don’t clean them up. There is also trash in cyberspace, and they would adversely affect our brains if they’re not cleaned up," Hung said at a National Assembly session on Thursday.

While he did not elaborate on what constituted cybertrash, Hung said cyberspace lacked the legal systems and authorities to maintain itself, which resulted in "real-life consequences."

As such, keeping cyberspace safe and healthy requires not just the involvement of legal systems and authorities, but also people being aware of proper online behaviors, he noted.

The Ministry of Information and Communications is developing a social media etiquette code to prevent negative content, protect users and create a healthy online environment.

It also has its own facility to monitor, analyze and categorize information on national cyberspace. When an authoritative entity determines a piece of information to be cybertrash, the ministry would order Internet service providers to remove it, even if those are posted on foreign social media sites like Facebook.

"Foreign social networks operating in Vietnam must comply with Vietnamese laws," Hung said.

He said Vietnam has tightened control on these foreign sites and the rate of content removed upon the Vietnamese government's request has increased 500 percent in 10 months.

Vietnam has been publicly asking Facebook and Google to help control negative content on their sites since 2017.

Google has blocked more than 7,000 videos and removed 19 YouTube channels with "malicious" content, according to a government report last month. It has also removed 58 Vietnamese games that violated national laws from the Google Play application.

Facebook has scrapped 200 websites with anti-governmental content, 208 fake accounts, and 2,444 websites that promoted sales of "illegal products and services." 215 gambling sites were also taken down.

A cybersecurity law in Vietnam, which went into effect this year, bans internet users from organizing, encouraging or training other people for anti-state purposes.

The law also prohibits the spreading of incorrect information that causes confusion among people, damages socio-economic activities, creates difficulties for authorities and those performing their duty, and violates the legal rights and benefits of other organizations and individuals.

Around half of the 90 million people in Vietnam are online. Facebook and Google's YouTube are among the most popular social networks in the country, which has licensed 436 social networking sites and 1,500 websites.

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