Internet Access and Openness in Vietnam

Today, the Open Technology Fund released a comprehensive report on the ICT landscape in Vietnam. The report builds on an in-country visit made by OTF and a team of technologists last year.

The report investigates the growing connectivity in the country and the consequences of this development. The Vietnamese government has simultaneously sought to put ICT industries at the forefront of economic growth and maintain a tight grip on content and activities occurring online. With nearly 40 percent of Vietnamese possessing an individual internet connection, the wide array of tactics to monitor and repress citizens and control information online use by the Vietnamese government makes use of the open internet a task requiring increasing rigor.

Despite the government’s multifaceted efforts to restrict online speech, the Vietnamese people have utilized their creativity to circumvent internet censorship and access the content they want online. A vast percentage of the online population leverage a variety of tactics to circumvent blocking. In fact, with many millions of Vietnamese internet users relying on alternative DNS providers, potentially half the connected population, the country may represent the highest percentage of netizens worldwide circumventing internet censorship. However, the broad adoption of mobile phones has enabled the censors to implement increasingly pervasive surveillance efforts.

These efforts have led to regulatory uncertainty for the ICT sector and a dangerous online environment for Vietnamese internet users. For a more detailed look into this harmfully paradoxical situation, please check out the report here.