Saturday, November 30, 2013

Vietnam Enacts Law To Fine Social Media Critics

During the Thanksgiving holiday it is important that we give thanks to our country's forefathers who created a government and society that protects and values the freedom of speech.  This freedom is the bedrock of our democratic society.  The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution generally protects our citizens from being punished for criticizing the government.  This protection applies not only in the real world but also in the digital world. 

Not every country provides its citizens a "Frist Amendment" right to criticize their government.  According to, Vietnamese officials recently announced a new law that appears to provide its government the power to jail or issue steep fines to citizens who disparage the state via social media.

Vietnam's new law, "Decree 72" enables the government to hand out fines of 100 million dong ($4,740) to anyone criticizing the country on social media, and/or uses the Internet and information on the web to undermine the state.  According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, earlier this year 13 bloggers/activists were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 13 years for expressing their opinions on line. 

It is important to remember that when visiting foreign countries you must be aware of their laws to ensure that your digital activity does not create an international incident and/or land you in jail.

Copyright 2013 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC All rights reserved.

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