The Vietnamese government has reportedly deployed a military cyber-warfare unit compromised of more than 10,000 digital soldiers to combat and censor views on the internet that it finds threatening or “wrong.”
Dubbed Force 47, the unit is already active and available to all military sectors, according to a report from Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre – subsequently translated by various international news agencies – citing Nguyen Trong Nghia, deputy head of the military's politics department, who spoke last Monday at a conference of the Central Propaganda Department.
“In every hour, minute, and second we must be ready to fight proactively against the wrong views,” Nghia stated, based on a Reuters account of the Vietnamese article.
Although Vietnam does not restrict Internet access nearly to the extent its neighbour China does, the country has placed pressure on outside companies like Facebook and YouTube to remove accounts that promote views disparaging or diminishing the Communist party's views, Bloomberg reports. The country is also actively debating a drafted bill that calls for local placement of Facebook and Google servers, Reuters reports – a move that could facilitate future censorship efforts.
Reuters also quoted an anonymous spokesman from cyber-security firm FireEye who said Vietnam has “built up considerable cyber-espionage capabilities in a region with relatively weak defences.”
“Vietnam is certainly not alone,” the source continued. “FireEye has observed a proliferation in offensive capabilities... This proliferation has implications for many parties, including governments, journalists, activists and even multi-national firms."