1(630)802-8605 Ravi.das@bn-inc.net

In my blog postings, I have focused pretty much on what is happening here in the United States, and the ramifications of what happens around the world – you know the ripple effect.  But today, we take an international perspective of things.

To be honest, I really do not know what is happening a lot out there in the world in terms of Cybersecurity, other than what I just read in the news headlines every morning.  Yea, there is the usual hijacking of Cryptocurrencies in South Korea, China is launching covert attacks on US Government servers, blah, blah, blah.

But this morning,  I came across a news headline that really piqued my  interests.  Nothing to do with the above mentioned countries, but instead, it has to do with Vietnam.  The most I remember about it is when I was growing up.

Although it was awhile since the war ended, it was still fresh in everybody’s mind.  I remember the protests, the marches in DC, and Vietnam Vets whom felt that they were forgotten about by our ow Federal Government.

Heck, even in my hometown of West Lafayette where nothing really too much happened, there were still some low level protests occurring.  I even remember seeing some people in wheel chairs, crutches, and being dismembered in certain parts of their body.  It totally broke my heart to see all of this suffering.  Of course, I was just a kid, and did not really fully comprehend the significance of what was truly happening.

Anyways, it seems like that Vietnamese Parliament has just passed new legislation related to Cybersecurity, and it is already raising some serious concerns about freedom of speech, and how the Vietnamese people can openly express themselves in public.

The new legislation, which will require tech companies to store data about Vietnamese Internet users on local servers, will increase security in the country, at least so say the government officials.

But according to human rights critics, this move could possibly greatly curtail free speech for Vietnamese Internet users, as the companies might be forced to hand over large amounts of private information to the government over there.  More specifics about this legislations include the following:

  • Prohibit users from organizing online for anti-state purposes;
  • Spreading false information about the Vietnamese Government;
  • Take part in online activities that potentially undermine the country’s achievements or solidarity.

That seems fair enough, right?  Don’t use the Internet to bash your own government?  WRONG.  Human rights groups call this new legislation as deeply “repressive”, and in fact is very similar in stature to that of the Cybersecurity law just passed in China.  This law forces tech companies like Apple to host data on local servers, which in turn, allows for the Chinese government to access private iCloud data from its Chinese users.

According to Amnesty International:  “The online space was a relative refuge where people could go to share ideas and opinions with less fear of censure by the authorities . . . The internet is the last remaining space where Vietnamese citizens can express their opinions with a relative degree of freedom. This law would emphatically put an end to that.”  (SOURCE:  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/vietnam-cybersecurity-law-devastating-blow-freedom-amnesty-180613074931697.html).

In fact, even the The Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), an interest group consisting of large tech companies such as Google, Twitter, Apple and Facebook, has also voiced its concerns over the new law. In even harsher terms, the Reporters Without Borders called the Vietnamese government “an enemy of the internet”.

My thoughts?  Well, not actually talking to any Vietnamese citizens, it is difficult to predict what this will mean to the average person living over there.  Yes, it is sad in a way, but this is too expected in that part of the world.  I have visited Thailand a number of times over the years, and even thought it feels like a complete democracy there, it really is not.  It is still a monarchy, and even speaking publicly against him in the open or even on the Internet can land you some serious prison time over there.

What can the United States do about this?  Really nothing, either.  Yes, we could impose new sanctions and so forth, but what good is that, when we are trying to normalize relationships with them?  And, we have seen how sanctions work thus far in North Korea.  Even despite that, the regime there is still carrying on with its nuclear ambitions.

This newly crafted legislation is the business of the Vietnamese government and its people, and it should be treated as such.  We have no right or reason to interfere what so ever.  Every country’s government has a right of the laws that they want to pass, whether we deem them to be too harsh by our own standards.

Just be thankful that here in the United States, to a certain degree (without violating the law) we have the freedom of speech and freedom of the press to voice our opinions about our own Federal Government.

Let us cherish those rights, and not take them for granted either.