Bans on internet games and restraints on internet access a cause for concern

Vietnam has joined those countries taking a repressive line on the Internet, with the Ministry of Information and Communications halting the licensing of online games in general and those involving gambling in particular. The ban includes restrictions on advertising and a halt between 11pm and 6am of Internet access for commercial outlets offering public internet services.

Minister Le Doan Hop said the decision will remain in force until the end of 2010, by which time the ministry expected the government to approve draft regulations on online games.

The crackdown on online games follows a public outcry about their negative influences on the youth, the Vietnam News reports. Local reports have blamed an increase in juvenile crime and school truancy on the influence of and addiction to online games.

A recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Education and Training showed 70 and 76 per cent of primary school children playing online games on weekdays in Ha Noi and HCM City, respectively.

Minister Hop also mentioned long-term solutions, noting that government should work on laws to ensure information security and supervise information provided on the internet. He added that his ministry would co-operate with the Public Security Ministry to manage internet usage with electronic IDs in both internet and mobile usage.

"The electronic IDs will not only be helpful for dealing with online games issues but also for mobile phone subscriber management," Hai said.

Meanwhile, deputy chairman of HCM City People's Committee Nguyen Thanh Tai has urged the Department of Information and Communications to work harder in cracking down on online games with violent, gambling and pornographic content.

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