Vietnamese Facebookers give Zuckerberg ultimatum

Defend our privacy from new cybersecurity laws or face boycott, they warn
Vietnamese Facebookers give Zuckerberg ultimatum

People use laptops at a coffee shop in Hanoi. Vietnamese internet users are urging Facebook not to comply with new cybersecurity laws. (Photo by Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP) reporter, Hanoi
July 16, 2018
Facebook users in Vietnam have challenged the social media giant's boss Mark Zuckerberg not to comply with controversial cybersecurity laws aimed at suppressing dissidents.

Concerned users fear the impact on their free speech and personal privacy.

They said the new laws, similar to those of neighboring China, require internet service providers such as Facebook to establish representative offices and data centers in Vietnam to store user information.

Service providers are also required to provide users' personal information on request to Vietnam's government.

Facebook users said there had so far been no public response from Facebook regarding the hard-line requirements to come into effect early next year.

They said that many postings critical of the government have been deleted from Facebook without explanation.

Facebook officials have reportedly held meetings with Vietnamese officials but details of the discussions have not been revealed.

Information and Communications Minister Truong Minh Tuan on July 9 said at a national conference that Facebook had deleted about 1,000 video clips and links that violated Vietnamese laws during the first six months of this year.

Facebook also deactivated 137 Facebook accounts that "slandered" the Communist Party and its government administration, he added.

A group of Facebook users in Vietnam on July 7 sent an online petition to Zuckerberg saying they were "very wary" that Facebook would side with the Vietnamese government at the expense of users.

"Will Facebook obey the cybersecurity law and censor users' content at the Vietnam government's request, especially regarding information considered to be unfavorable to the government and state-run enterprises?" they asked in the petition.

They specifically asked Zuckerberg to publicly disclose, in compliance with Facebook's transparency policies, details of Vietnamese government requests as well as the social media company's responses.

The petitioners called on him to confirm that Facebook had put 300 data servers into Vietnam and asked if it had ever provided users' information to the government or other companies in Vietnam.

The petition, which drew 10,500 online signatories, said Facebook's willingness to respond in full to the questions by Sept. 12 would be crucial in deciding whether to continue using the social media platform.

There are currently more than 50 million Facebook users in Vietnam.

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