As we described in our 2012 Year In Review, Herdict saw a large increase in reports from Vietnam last year. In 2012, Herdict received over twenty thousand inaccessible reports from Vietnam, making it the country with the second-highest number of inaccessible reports, behind China.The total number of reports submitted from Vietnam more than doubled between 2011 and 2012.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), much of this filtering stems from the Vietnamese government’s fears about political instability from citizen journalism. RSF’s 2012 “Enemies of the Internet” analysis of Vietnam states that “The regime’s attention is focused on the Arab world and its protest movements. Paranoid Vietnamese authorities have stepped up repression and control to stave off any possibility of a regime collapse.”
This increase in reports indicates a persistence of Vietnam’s filtering regime (and an expansion of Herdict reports from region), rather than an increase in filtering itself. According to the OpenNet Initiative, as of 2012, the filtering regime, albeit strict, is not particularly effective and is inconsistently applied across ISP’s in Vietnam. Moreover, according to RSF’s report on Vietnam, “Filtering is no longer the main method used to curtail Internet freedom.” Instead, over the past two years, the Vietnamese government has focused its attention on monitoring, surveillance, and cyberattacks as a means of suppression.
Because Vietnam’s filtering regime has not greatly changed in intensity, the increase in reporting from Vietnam may reflect growing concern about the country’s political filtering. The 2012 Vietnam data indicates that over two-thirds of the reports to Herdict were related to political or news sites. In contrast, very few inaccessible reports were about internet tools such as proxies, providing some confirmation that circumvention has historically not been difficult in Vietnam.