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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Cyber cops to patrol Vietnam net
Internet cafe in Vietnam
Most Vietnamese go online via net cafes
Vietnam is tightening its control over the growing numbers of people online.

A special police unit to combat cyber crime and prevent the spread of banned materials via the net is due to start work in September, state media said.

The communist nation has curbed access to the internet, and blocked sites it deems inappropriate. It also routinely monitors e-mails.

Some two million Vietnamese are online, from a population of 81 million, but the number is rising rapidly.

Online dilemma

Like its neighbour China, Vietnam is grappling with the freedoms offered by the internet.

Online crime is expected to become a major problem as more people begin using the internet and connection speeds increase
Nguyen Tu Quang, Hanoi Technology University
The country wants to develop it as a means of economic growth, while maintaining a tight grip on its users.

Although only a small number of Vietnamese are online, that number is rising as people access the web via inexpensive internet cafes.

As part of its efforts to regulate the net, Vietnam has set up a special police unit which is due to officially start operations in September.

According to state media, the cyber cops will focus on crimes such as credit card fraud, hacking, gambling and posting banned information online.

"Online crime is expected to become a major problem as more people begin using the internet and connection speeds increase," Nguyen Tu Quang, Director of Hanoi Technology University's Network Security Centre, is quoted as saying.

Net dissidents

Vietnam already has tight controls on internet access.

Last year it set up the Internet Centre of Vietnam to ensure the net was not being used to oppose the communist system.

Human rights and dissident sites are blocked, and official permission is needed for any website hosted in the country.

In addition, net cafes have to keep a record of their users' identities and the websites they visit.

Last week a court in Vietnam sentenced a veteran pro-democracy activist to more than two years in prison for undermining the communist system.

Dr Nguyen Dan Que was the third Vietnamese dissident to be convicted in July for using the internet to swap information and criticise Hanoi.




SEE ALSO:
Vietnam jails veteran dissident
29 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
US votes to cap Vietnam aid
20 Jul 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam cyber dissident released
15 Jun 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam tightens grip on religion
24 Jan 03  |  Asia-Pacific
US criticises Vietnam arrest
18 May 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Vietnam dissident priest arrested
17 May 01  |  Americas
Country profile: Vietnam
15 Jun 04  |  Country profiles


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