By Chloe Albanesius
Google on Thursday criticized a regulation recently enacted in Vietnam that will require retail Internet locations to install an app that Google said will allow the Vietnamese government to monitor and block Web access.
The decision, which was handed down April 26, affects Internet services at retail locations in Hanoi City. This could be Internet cafes, or any hotel, restaurant, office, airport, bus station, or other location that provides access to the Web.
To “guarantee system safety,” retail Internet locations must install a copy of “Internet Service Retailers Management Software recognized by the authority,” the order said.
There are few details on that software, but Google said in a blog post that “the application will likely allow the Vietnamese government to block access to websites, as well as to track user activities.”
“The implementation of an application like this one would choke off access to information for many in Hanoi — given how popular Internet cafés are among Internet users in Vietnam,” wrote Dorothy Chou, a Google policy analyst. “If the regulation spreads beyond Hanoi, it will impose these vague and non-transparent restrictions on users all over the country.”
Internet users in Hanoi are not allowed to do anything online to: oppose the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; endanger national security, stability, public safety; disrupt the united harmony of the people; propagate war; create hatred, conflicts between minority groups, religious groups; provoke violence, pornography, crimes, social unrest, stereotypes; impair cultural values; or call for illegal demonstrations, boycotts, unlawful gatherings for grievances and complaints, the order said.
In March, Google said it had uncovered a cyber threat targeting computer users in Vietnam. Google said that tens of thousands users who downloaded Vietnamese keyboard language software might be infected with malware that can be used to spy on the users and coordinate distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Vietnamese authorities denied the allegations.
That cyber threat, coupled with “intermittent blockages of Facebook and other social networks [present] a troubling example of a government threatening free expression online and an open Internet,” Chou wrote.
Earlier this year, Google stopped censoring its search results in China and redirected Google.cn traffic to the unrestricted Google.com/hk in Hong Kong after Google discovered a coordinated attack against the company that originated in China. Individuals were reportedly trying to gain access to Google intellectual property as well as the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists around the world.
Source taken from: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2364950,00.asp