Vietnam introduces public internet curfew

I recent blogged that Vietnam runs a pretty active internet censorship program, despite other geographic neighbours being more readily associated with web restrictions. However, the issue has developed further with internet cafes in capital city Hanoi now subject to restricted opening hours in a bid to fight the effects of internet addiction in young people.

From AP:

Authorities in the Vietnamese capital are clamping down on Internet cafes in what they say is a bid to address online gaming addiction and inappropriate content.

Internet shops within 200 metres (220 yards) of schools must shut down this month, the official Hanoi city website said late Friday.

In addition, “technical measures” should be implemented to suspend all online service to Internet shops between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am, it said.

These shops have resulted in the quitting of classes by students who have become so addicted to online games, causing unexpected consequences,” he [Pham Quoc Ban, head of Hanoi’s information department], said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said authorities are trying to guarantee “safety and healthy usage” at public Internet points in Hanoi. She said concerns over free expression are groundless.

I’ve covered the issue of internet addiction in young people in Singapore recently (see post here) for whom the solution – with a population less reliant on public internet access with fixed and mobile internet access more readily available – may follow China’s lead and implement online gaming regulation which “state that users must provide their real names, ID number and contact information”.

The move from Vietnam is far more extreme and it remains to be seen if the restrictions, which are in place for this month, will be lifted or, as I suspect, some form of public online curfew will remain. As a country that blocked Facebook and has introduced these ‘temporary’ measures, Vietnam seems unlikely to have issues enforcing draconian restrictions on a more permanent basis.