Vietnam has more than 23.3 million Internet users, accounting for 27.1 percent of the population, and ranks fourth for Internet users in Southeast Asia. Measures to control information in online newspapers, online news sites and online games are still loose, warned government officials.
The Ministry of Information and Communications reported at a workshop on management of online newspapers, news sites and online games early this week that it has granted licenced to 32 online newspapers, 180 news websites of media organizations and nearly 200 information sites.
At the workshop, officials shared their concerns about many online newspapers being commercialized and becoming tabloids that focus only on the private lives of celebrities as well as sexual, violent and spiritual issues. Many information websites published inaccurate and sensitive information.
Lieutenant-Colonel Nguyen Van Thinh, chief of the Information Security Department under the Ministry of Public Security, responded that the ones responsible for information sites are IT engineers, whose knowledge of journalism is very poor.
Thinh also noted that some information sites provide only thrilling news. Others allow readers to post pictures, video clips and comments without strict supervision. He warned that many information websites are running like online newspapers without a license, a seriously infraction of the Press Law.
Le Hong Minh, Vietnam Software Association (Vinasa) Vice-Chair, observed that up to 11 out of 30 top websites in Vietnam are online newspapers or information websites. Search engines and multimedia information portals still hold the top positions.
According to Vinasa, nearly 140,000 websites with Vietnamese domain names (.vn) have been registered. Vietnam now has 16 agents for registering domain names and 98 for international domain names, besides dozens of host service providers.
Some websites with Vietnamese domain names have recently been used to post either documents against Vietnam or pornographic materials. There are two sex websites with overseas servers among the top 30 websites attracting the highest numbers of visitors from Vietnam. An estimated 50 percent of Internet users are university students or graduates and 30 percent are high-school graduates.
Vietnam has 17 companies offering online gaming, with a total of nearly 100 games. Some suggest that Vietnam should not ban online games administratively, but use policies to restrict the harmful effects of online games on children.
According to Dr. Nguyen Minh Thuyet, the National Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children Vice-Chair, around two-thirds of Vietnamese primary school pupils, 81 percent of junior and high school students plus 75 percent of university students play online games. At the same time, a survey shows that 77 percent of online games have violent content and 9 percent center on gambling.
Thuyet said that controlling online games must start with controlling online game agents and strengthening education at home.