Force 47 – The Vietnamese brigade tasked with fighting “wrongful views” spreading online

Pierluigi Paganini January 02, 2018

Force 47 is a brigade composed of 10,000 cyber warriors to fight online dissent in Vietnam, a new threat to freedom of speech in the country.

Like many other Governments, also Vietnam is deploying a cyber army of 10000 cyber experts to fight online dissent in the country.

The news was revealed by a top Vietnamese general last week, the official that the brigade dubbed ‘Force 47’ has been tasked with fighting “wrongful views” spreading online.

More than half of the population (around 93 million people) has access to the Internet.

According to web watchdog Freedom House, the Internet in Vietnam is “not free”, the organization ranked it second only to China in Asia.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson believes that the brigade Force 47 is a “shocking new dimension to Vietnam’s crackdown on dissent”.

“This is just the latest plank in a campaign to curb internet freedoms at all costs,” Shawn Crispin, Committee to Protect Journalists’ Southeast Asia representative, told AFP Friday. 

“While they can’t unplug Facebook, Instagram and the likes outright, they can apply more and more pressure on those platforms and it looks like these cyber troops are their latest attempt to do that.” 

The activist Nguyen Chi Tuyen (aka Anh Chi) said the new brigade is an important step in ahead of online repression.

“The main purpose for Force 47 is to try and control news and public opinion on the internet… they want to protect the party, not protect the country,” explained Tuyen.

The Vietnamese Government is applying a strict online monitoring, it continues to ask tech giants like Facebook and YouTube to remove any “toxic content” from their platforms.

The Vietnamese Government believes that hostile groups and foreign governments could use social media and the Internet to destabilize the country and threaten the “prestige of the party’s leaders and the state”.

According to Amnesty International, many dissidents have already been identified and arrested in the country, at least 15 people this year.

Madeline Earp, a senior research analyst with Freedom House, explained that the unit Force 47 is likely to include commentators tasked of spreading online pro-government content and counter critics.

“Vietnam very much follows China’s example when suppressing internet freedom, particularly when it comes to blocking websites and arresting dissidents,” she told AFP.

Vietnam had built up considerable cyber capabilities in across the years, according to the incident response firm Volexity, Vietnamese APT32 group is today one of the most advanced APTs in the threat landscape.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Force 47, Vietnam)

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