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Vietnam's New Cyber Law Threatens Free Speech

January 02, 2019 / Phil Muncaster

The Vietnamese government has passed a sweeping new cybersecurity law which critics claim will help the one-party state continue to crack down on free speech. The law will force internet companies like Facebook and Google to open offices in the country, store data on users locally and allow access to that data at the request of the authorities. Social sites will be forced to remove any content deemed “toxic” — effectively giving the authorities a free hand in online censorship. Businesses now have 12 months to comply with the new legislation, which was passed back in June. Yet with tens of millions of active users in the country, the likes of Facebook could theoretically push back — especially as Hanoi needs the help of globally connected platforms as part of its ongoing bid to turn Vietnam into a south-east Asian technology hub.