State has to manage Internet growth: Deputy PM

The Government is intent on creating conditions for the Internet to flourish in the country, but it has to happen under State management, adhere to the law, international agreements and global trends, Deputy PM Vu Duc Dam told the parliament yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam responds to queries from National Assembly deputies yesterday afternoon. (Photo: VNA/VNS)
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam responds to queries from National Assembly deputies yesterday afternoon. (Photo: VNA/VNS)
He was speaking during a National Assembly discussion on State management of the press and social media, where issues of controlling ‘toxic’ and inappropriate content as well as progress on e-government were discussed.
Dam agreed with NA deputies that implementation of e-government has not happened in tandem with Government’s downsizing efforts.
The e-government project requires significant capital, which is difficult to source under current budgetary constraints, he said.
As of July, only one percent of public services were being provided at level 4 (where every procedure including payment can be done online) and five per cent at level 3 (where procedures, excluding payment, can be done online), Dam said.
He said the rate of level 4 administrative services vary from ministry to ministry, with the Finance Ministry showing a 26 percent rate and the Labour Ministry postin a dismal 0.4 percent.
The Deputy PM also said that in the near future, the Government will set specific e-government markers for agencies and localities to achieve, and those who fail to do will be sanctioned.
Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan acknowledged the “unstoppable trend” and “indisputable role” of the Internet and social media in “bringing people closer, providing easier access to the wealth of knowledge.”
On the other hand, social media and Internet can also be used to help spread toxic information and anti-State propaganda, invade privacy, and incite violence and ethnic or religious hatred.
“… we must recognise that social media itself is not a bad thing, but the behaviour of users can be a problem,” he said.
Tuan told the NA deputies that 70 percent of the country’s population are Internet users and 53 million Vietnamese – more than half the total population – are active Facebook users.
“The negative black energy that even just one million users emit has significant impact on the social media’s environment,” he said, adding that it was mostly ‘negativity’ that attracted people. Good deeds do not receive as much attention, he said.
The communications minister also admitted that the press was trailing behind social media these days. The press must “hold its pivotal role of influencing information in the right direction on the Internet media.”
Responding to NA deputies’ concerns over ethical breaches in the media, including some instances of misleading and sensationalist reporting; and of reporters blackmailing businesses with exposure or negative pieces and, on the other hand, writing fluff pieces for remuneration.
“The violations committed by some press agencies are certainly serious, but they cannot alter the flow of the mainstream press,” the minister said.
Tuan said he has directed relevant agencies to handle such cases adequately.
Other issues discussed at the hearing included information and internet security, domination of foreign services in the Vietnamese online market, the need to require transnational companies to follow domestic laws, downsizing newspaper and television channels under the management of Government’s agencies, and a better management of media content produced by major news outlets in cooperation with private investors.

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