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Abstract

As a result of an unprecedented congestion of its Internet and mobile phone communications, many technocrats in Vietnam trace such problems to government policy driven by security concerns. Therefore, the author in this article analyzes Vietnam's regulatory response to Internet technology. The author first discusses the historical background of Vietnam's management and regulatory policy over the Internet. He argues that the policy is essentially the result of socialist assumptions of the state's dominant role in the country's economic growth. Under its 1997 decree regarding Internet usage, the General Director of the General Postal Bureau has the exclusive authority and primary role in managing the Internet. With that authority, the DGPT appointed Vietnam Data Communications to operate as the country's sole Internet Access Provider and four other entities as ISPs. Anyone wishing to obtain an Internet access must register with a state licensed and approved ISP and sign subscription contracts that make them responsible for information input into, transmitted to, and received from their networks. The author then analyzes Vietnam's legislative provisions that shelter a state centered regulatory firewall. He argues that such firewall, the "Bamboo Firewall," serves a technological function by centralizing transmitted information and as a political control mechanism as an electronic filter by essentially keeping Internet users from connecting to Web sites that are deemed politically, religiously or sexually offensive. With these in mind, the author identifies the conflict between the firewall and Vietnam's anti-trust regulations. Furthermore, he argues reasons that Vietnamese government will no longer be able to maintain its regulatory firewall and as a result of the subscription to the E-ASEAN agreement, the anti-trust regulation will bring an end to the "Bamboo Firewall."