Laos Warns Facebook Users Who Disrupt ‘Social Order, Undermine Security'

2014-07-14
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Women use a laptop to surf the Internet at a classroom in Vientiane in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of a citizen journalist

Authorities in Laos have warned Facebook users that their accounts will be blocked if they post information that “disrupt[s] social order and undermine[s] security.”

The warning was made at the National Assembly, the country’s rubber stamp parliament, last week amid reports that the one-party Communist government is drafting at least three new laws to regulate online information.

Lao Minister of Post and Telecommunications Hiem Phommachanh told parliament on Thursday that “technical officials” were taking steps to “block false information and some accounts that target to tarnish the reputation of individuals, disrupt social order, and tarnish the image of the country and the government,” according to the state-run Vientiane Times.

Officials have said that some Facebook users have signed up without using their real names, making it difficult to trace their true identities, the paper said.

The officials also alleged that some users were found to be circulating “false information” to “disrupt social order and undermine security.”

Draft regulations

The Vientiane Times said last month that the authorities are drafting regulations to streamline the use of social media.

The paper cited proposed regulations such as a “Cybercrime Law,” an “Information and Technology Law,” and a “Prime Ministerial Decree.”

No details of the regulations were provided.

The draft regulations are expected to be completed this year, the newspaper quoted Keovisouk Solaphom, acting director-general of the Lao National Internet Centre, as saying.

Minister Hiem however assured lawmakers that Laos would not block Facebook as a whole, saying that social media is “useful” as a communication channel.

The Lao Communist Party leadership, which has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1975, has long enforced strict controls on broadcast and print media in the country, where only about 8 percent of the population has access to the Internet.

Large jump

However, social media use has become increasingly prominent in Laos in recent years, especially among the younger population.

There has been a large jump in the number of Facebook users, from 200,000 users in 2012 to 530,000 as of May this year, 82 percent of whom are under 30 years old, according to Keovisouk.

Last month, the Vientiane Times cited rumors circulated on Facebook of foreign traffickers of human organs operating in a southeast province, causing “panic” among local residents.

Beyond that, “bad elements” have used social media to “tarnish” the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party and government policies, the paper added.

It was also alleged that Lao social media posted unfounded reports on a Lao Airlines plane crash last year.

In the nation's worst known air disaster, the plane plunged into the Mekong River, killing all 49 people on board.

Social media users had posted photos of the wrong plane, and one man had had to announce on Facebook that he was not dead after users speculated he had been on the flight, a report said

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Written in English by Di Hoa Le.

Comments (7)
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cHAN

from Round Rock

What does people said about snatching carrying bag from motor bike gangster in That-Dump Rd, common criminal?

Aug 14, 2014 09:08 PM

The Nationalists

Remember that the main reason for the Vietnam War was to stop the domino effects, that is to stop Communism from spreading to Indochina or other Southeast Asian countries, mainly Camodia and Lao. Without Vietnam, these countries would not be Communist. The people must revolt against their puppet government or leaders. Long live people power!

Aug 03, 2014 09:00 PM

Anonymous Reader

The key to free yourself is to ban together. Remember the slogan, "united we stand, divided we fall." This is what Cambodians are doing. It seems when two parties are joined together, they are much stronger to take on the ruling government.

Watch Cambodia closely.

Jul 19, 2014 03:44 PM

Lao

from Camvodia

Good point! We must defeat their boss, the Vietnamese, who control Lao or Cambodian leaders. Down with communism.

Aug 03, 2014 09:04 PM

Lao isala tua jing

from Vang Vieng

How long are we going to wait to overthrow
the ditactorship lao commusnist regime? I
believe lao people forgot what the vietnamese's son keosone has done to our country. Lao people should use metal cable to tight up all kesone statues in laos and bring them down just like Sadam
Hussein in Iraq

Jul 18, 2014 08:39 PM

Anonymous Reader

Don't give up everyone. Keep posting everything you see it necessary and important. Just ignore the warnings.

Jul 16, 2014 12:11 PM

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