Are Expat Bloggers in Vietnam affected by the Draft Blog Resolution?

VietnamNet Bridge just posted a piece on the current draft resolution to regulate ‘harmful’ blogs in Vietnam.  The Vietnamese government has wanted to regulate blogs within Vietnam as an effort to control the number of sites from posting “…incorrect information about religion, political system, state and government of Viet Nam.”

Now it seems that the current draft regulation will be able to prosecute bloggers, including Expats, who reside in Vietnam but host their blogs outside of the country.  When asked how Vietnam can manage blogs overseas, Nguyen Tu Quang responded:

This is to more complicated. If the violation relates to two countries, police of both sides will work together or through Interpol to investigate the case. If however, the blogger only breaks Vietnamese law but not the laws of the country he/she resides in, there’s little we can do. However, we still can solve this technically. The most important thing is to raise consciousness among internet users. (Source: VietnamNet Bridge)

So even if a blogger who resides in Vietnam did not break the laws of the country where the blog is hosted, they may be prosecuted here in Vietnam.  That is my interpretation at least.

I will be curious to see if the draft resolution will have a clause for Expat bloggers residing in Saigon.

  • kca

    Nothing new, this is the same for others countries: Having a blog on FPT server, and residing in USA does not grant you the freedom to threat Bush, even if you are not American.

  • Ken

    Well, like I’ve mentioned before on your past blog entry about this issue. If you live in Vietnam you ought to be concerned about this policy as it regards to freedom of speech. One may speak their mind about a certain subject and think that it’s harmless because it is merely their personal opinion on the matter; however, it can be a crime in a country like Vietnam. You have mentioned that your blog is hosted in Chicago but just as I predicted, the policy is to prevent anyone from bad mouthing the Vietnamese government and those who does, would be dealt with according, if it’s feasiable (if they can physically arrest you). I don’t think this is really any new, just that now it has to do with the internet. Like I said before, if you live in Vietnam you ought to know that it doesn’t matter where your blog is hosted, you’ll be arrested for things that “Uncle Ho, think is inappropiate for his people.” What I want to know is, what happens if you have diplomatic immunity? Now, that’s when things get complicated.

  • Ken

    By the way, I can’t see any of the comments Kevin.

  • Tracy Reed

    Most ex-pat bloggers in Vietnam practice self-censorship by avoiding political topics that deserve discussion anyway. They don’t even realize the disservice they do to the people of their host country. So I doubt this is a real problem for them.

  • Craig N

    I am just glad that I didn’t register with my last name. I would hate for the thought police to come knocking on my family’s door in Saigon.

  • Jenkins Butterworth

    Tracy – it is very true – but I also wonder how many expats pay that much attention to events like the imprisonment of journalists etc. Trouble is, nobody really relishes the idea of prison and expats are no more likely to avoid jail than the vietnamese – just look at the expat bloggers being imprisioned in Thailand.

    It also begs the question – just how important is an expat’s opinion anyway? Surely if the Vietnamese people want change they will demand it themselves – exposure in overseas media may well help their cause, but will an average small expat blog that normally discusses popping to a coffeshop with students really make a difference?

    I don’t mean to disagree with you – I have considered blogging about things that have upset me several times but there is always the fear that it may come back to haunt you, or worse still as Craig points out people you love or care about in Vietnam. But then that fear disappoints me, as I would think I would have the courage to speak out – I certainly would if I was at home – but then this isn’t my country.. do I have the right?

  • Ken

    Honestly, I think everyone has a point. But let me tell you this, Martin Luther King was only 1 man, Ghandi was also a very harmless 1 man. What the Vietnamese government is shooting for is preverntion in any shape or form. I don’t want to get too political here but I’m sure you have somewhat of an imagination. Of course, if you are in their country you have to abid by their law and political system. Remember when you are talking about rights, you are really asking “what rights am I potected for.” After all, even though you feel your rights are God given, the protection of your rights really comes down to the government of the country. In the case of the U.S. your God given rights are mostly protected, not all country have that doctrine though. So, exercise your rights accordingly. Just because you can do it at home, doesn’t mean you can do it else where =D.

  • chris

    No problem! Just make sure you don’t post any “…incorrect information about religion, political system, state and government of Viet Nam.”

  • If you continue writing what you’re writing, you won’t be running into problems at all. However, the particular blog on “changing political environment” may be a good target for them, so be careful 🙂

  • Ken

    Anh Hung has a good point. Like many expats, some thoughts that reasonates into a blog could be deem as harmless and unpolitical in nature; however, it can be deem as “incorrect information about…political system…” regard of the source of your information. Sometimes, it doesn’t even have to be political. Merely comparing your ability to exercise your rights in certain country or your home country versus in Vietnam can be deem as “incorrect information.” I wouldn’t blog anything about the political system at all.

  • @Tracy: I agree with on this point now. If you have a blog, you really should not censor yourself, per se. The whole point is to express your opinions and views. I am guilty of it in the past though.

  • @Craig N: Haha, they can still find you. You can run, but you can’t hide 🙂

  • @Jenkins Butterworth: In all honesty, I do not think anyone really knows when a blogger is imprisoned or not. If the media reports it, this means the information was given by the government.

    As for the ‘fear’ comment, I do not think people in Vietnam fear the government anymore. There is just too much frustration going on. Vietnam is changing, quite fast.

  • @chris: Everything I post is correct…according to my views 🙂

%d bloggers like this: