U.S. criticizes new Internet law in Vietnam, says violates human rights

HANOI, Vietnam – The United States has criticized a new decree in Vietnam that criminalizes political dissent on the Internet and forces global companies like Google and Facebook to keep servers inside the country.

In a statement, the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said Tuesday that Decree 72 “appeared to be inconsistent with Vietnam’s obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

It also said it would deter foreign investment in the country.

The U.S. government as well as Internet companies had lobbied Vietnam’s government during the drafting of the decree, apparently unsuccessfully.

The Internet has emerged as a major avenue of dissent in Communist Vietnam, alarming conservative elements in the government.

Critics have said the decree was part of an escalating crackdown on freedom of speech.