Vietnam
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Vietnam The expansion of Internet use in the country has become a cause for concern for the government of Vietnam, which on one hand aspires to expand information and communication technologies for development purposes, and on the other, sees the Internet as a source of instability. The Vietnamese state has taken steps to control Internet use through legal and regulatory frameworks, and by filtering content that it deems threatening to the regime, state unity, or national security. With the rise of social networking and blogging as tools to express dissent, the Internet has become a contested space in Vietnam: the government attempts to rival social networking sites such as Facebook through the development of a state-run social networking site on the one hand, while patriotic hackers launch cyber attacks on dissident Web sites on the other. RESULTS AT A GLANCE Filtering No evidence of Filtering Suspected Filtering Selective Filtering Substantial Filtering Pervasive Filtering Political • Social • Conflict and security • Internet tools • OTHER FACTORS Low Medium High Not Applicable Transparency • Consistency • 386 Vietnam Background Vietnam is a one-party state governed by the Communist Party of Vietnam. The party does not maintain a strict adherence to ideological orthodoxy.1 Today, Vietnam is making a transition from a centrally planned economy to a market-oriented mixed economy. Since opening up its economy there has been an increased socioeconomic gap, which the government sees as a potential source of political instability.2 The party maintains a tight grip on the Internet and information flows, and is sensitive to content that can cause social instability. As a part of the country’s development project, the government is promoting information and communication technologies (ICTs) and e-commerce. The government’s commitment to ICTs can be seen in the country’s Master Plan for ICT Development for 2005–2010, the creation of a National Steering Committee for ICT, and the creation of the Ministry of Information and Communication. However, the Communist Party of Vietnam sees the Internet as a threat to stability and actively seeks to monitor Internet content. After a period of relative openness and tolerance of independent voices and criticism in 2006 when liberal publications were established, the government clamped down on what it considers unlawful usage of the Internet. Because the ICT sector in Vietnam is changing constantly, it is difficult to describe the situation “on the ground” with complete accuracy. KEY INDICATORS GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2005 international dollars) 2,681 Life expectancy at birth, total (years) 74 Literacy rate, adult total (percent of people age 15+) 92.5 Human Development Index (out of 169) 113 Rule of Law (out of 5) 2.1 Voice and Accountability (out of 5) 1.0 Democracy Index (out of 167) 95 (Authoritarian regime) Digital Opportunity Index (out of 181) 126 Internet penetration rate 26.6 Source by indicator: World Bank 2009, World Bank 2008a, World Bank 2008b, UNDP 2010, World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators 2009, Economist Intelligence Unit 2010, ITU 2007, ITU 2009. See Introduction to the Country Profiles, pp. 222–223. ONI Country Profile 387 Internet in Vietnam Internet use in Vietnam is growing rapidly. In 2009, the country had an estimated 23,283,300 Internet users, with a penetration rate of 26.6 percent.3 The country’s broadband subscription rate is 3.6 percent.4 Recently the home surpassed public access centers as the primary place that users access the Internet.5 Prior to 2009, users primarily went to public access centers, such as Internet cafés or post offices. Access through mobile phones has also increased, reflecting competitive and attractive mobile phone packages.6 A study conducted by Yahoo! and Kantar Media found that 71 percent of users in major cities such as Can Tho, Danang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Min City accessed the Internet from their homes.7 However, Internet cafés remain popular throughout the country, providing service to youth, online game players, and those who are unable to afford broadband access. While any Vietnamese firm can operate as an Internet service provider (ISP), only companies that are state-owned can operate as Internet access service providers or Internet exchange providers. Formally, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications lists nine Internet access services providers, five Internet exchange providers, and 15 online service providers as licensed in Vietnam.8 The state-owned ISP, the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications (VNPT), dominates the broadband market. As of November 1, 2010, the VNPT held 74 percent...