Inappropriate Facebook Use Could Be Blocked

Internet users who use social media such as Facebook to circulate false information or any use targeting to disrupt social order or undermine security could have their accounts blocked, a minister has said.

Minister of Post and Telecommunications Hiem Phommachanh told the ongoing ordinary session of the National Assembly (NA) on Thursday that technical officials are working on the matter.

The technical officials are working in an attempt 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, the minister said.

But, Mr Hiem confirmed that Laos will not block the whole Facebook system, saying that social media is also useful for daily activities.

Among its positive aspects, social media can be used as a channel to exchange views, information and sharing lessons as well as advertisements among members of the public and businesses, the minister said.

He added that allowing people to access Facebook is also in line with Laos’s policy to switch from an agriculture-based economy to one with modernised industries and policy to integrate it with the outside world.

Facebook has rapidly become popular among users worldwide and in Laos. The number of Lao Facebook users has more than doubled from only about 200,000 users two years ago to 530,000 users as of May 2, 2014.

Officials said some users have signed up by not using their real names making it more difficult to find out their real identities.

Recently, some users were found circulating false information with officials alleging the users targeted to disrupt social order and undermine security.

In light of such inappropriate use, relevant authorities are drafting particular legal documents to regulate the use of social media – the move stirred up public discussion on what degree social media will be regulated or restricted.

The legal documents being drafted include Cybercrime Law, Information and Technology Law, and a Prime Ministerial Decree on the management of information through the internet.

The documents are expected to be complete this year, according to Acting Director General of the Lao National Internet Centre, under the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Mr Keovisouk Solaphom.

He agreed that social media plays an important role in spreading useful and important information to keep members of the public updated with what is happening in society and across the globe.

Many have been using it for trading and advertising purposes. All these have contributed to socio-economic development, the director said.

Director General of the Media Department, under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Pinpratthana Phanthamaly echoed the important role social media is playing including disseminating Party and government policies. He added that the government encourages appropriate use of social media.

Source: Vientiane Times