10 Most Censored Countries – Committee to Protect Journalists
Leadership: President and Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, in power since 2018.
How censorship works: The Communist Party-led government owns and controls all print and broadcast media in Vietnam. A raft of repressive laws and decrees sharply curtails any media criticism of the one-party government, its policies, and its performance. The 2016 Press Law states that the press must serve as the voice of the party, party organizations, and state agencies. Censorship is enforced through government directives to newspaper, radio, and TV editors, commanding which topics are to be highlighted and omitted. There are no independent, non-state online news outlets allowed to be based in Vietnam apart from the Catholic church-run Redemptorist News and foreign news bureaus whose reporters are tightly surveilled and movements restricted. Foreign journalists who travel on media visas are required to hire a government minder who follows them. A new cybersecurity law came into effect on January 1, 2019, giving authorities sweeping powers to censor online content, including provisions that require technology companies to disclose user data and take down content viewed as objectionable by authorities, according to Reuters. The law builds on Decree 72, a 2013 order that gave the state broad authority to censor blogs and social media; internet service providers that disseminate banned content face fines or closure, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Censored topics include human rights and the activities of political dissidents. Censorship is enforced through filtering and surveillance, including through a military-run, 10,000-strong cyber warfare unit known as “Force 47” tasked with tackling “wrong views,” according to the Financial Times. Independent journalists and bloggers who report critically on sensitive issues face harassment or detention on anti-state charges; at least 11 were behind bars as of December 1, 2018.