Communist Laos has issued a decree outlawing online criticism of policies of the ruling party or government, state media reported, the latest Southeast Asian country to enact strict internet controls.
According to legislation approved by Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong last week, web users will face criminal action for spreading “false” information aimed at discrediting the government, the official KPL news agency said.
It added users must also use their real names when setting up social media accounts.
Internet service providers could face action for making “available conditions” for any individual or group that had intentions of “tarnishing the party and government’s guidelines and policy”, KPL said.
The decree comes as cellphone and internet usage climbs in tandem with economic growth, a reduced poverty rate and greater electricity access in the country of 6.4 million people. The new laws bear similarities to those of its Communist neighbour Vietnam, which commands strong influence over Laos and has a near identical political system. – Reuters