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Vietnam Admits Deploying Bloggers

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the propaganda-posters-were-much-cooler-than-blog-posts dept.

The Internet 93

New submitter jespada writes "BBC News reports the Vietnamese Communist Party is approaching its internet image in a more sophisticated manner by hiring shill bloggers to argue its case. From the article: 'Hanoi Propaganda and Education Department head Ho Quang Loi said that the authorities had hired hundreds of so-called "internet polemists" in the fight against "online hostile forces." While the exact number of these activists is unknown, Mr Loi revealed that his organisation is running at least 400 online accounts and 20 microblogs. Regular visitors on popular social media networks in Vietnam such as Facebook have long noticed the existence of a number of pro-regime bloggers, who frequently post comments and articles supportive of the Communist Party. The bloggers also take part in online discussions, where they fiercely attack anybody who they see as critical of the regime.'"

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And (5, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | about 2 years ago | (#42570577)

Do you really think our western democratic political parties are not doing the exact same thing - even if they refer to them as marketing consultants or something similar?
I have sure noticed that some topics on various news sites and forums attract *immediate* right-wing commentary denigrating whatever the article is about.
I expect every political party out there is doing something similar. After all politics is more about appearance than substance these days.

Re:And (3, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#42570603)

I have sure noticed that some topics on various news sites and forums attract *immediate* right-wing commentary denigrating whatever the article is about.

Anything linked on drudge, instapundit, hot air or gateway pundit will attract nearly immediate commentary. That doesn't make a conspiracy. Then again, considering those sites are pretty much the only thing keeping left leaning news organizations alive these days by hits. I'd figure you'd be happy that we're out there and reading this stuff.

Vietnam is certainly ***NOT*** alone !! (0)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#42571159)

If you think Vietnam is the only country employing rogue bloggers in spreading half-truths and outright lies, in trying to fool their own citizen, think again.

China is doing the same.

Russia too.

And... surprisingly, USA is doing the same thing.

Re:Vietnam is certainly ***NOT*** alone !! (2, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#42571361)

Yeah. All one has to do is look at Obama's "truth teams" for the glorious insight into how that's working.

Re:Vietnam is certainly ***NOT*** alone !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42572549)

Fox News would have the same thing if Tea Partiers knew how to get wireless Internet in their RVs.

Re:Vietnam is certainly ***NOT*** alone !! (2)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#42574103)

In the West, and especially the US, we have massive, pervasive astroturfing (and other kinds of black PR) advocating for the interests of private power. It's morally as bad as what the Communists are doing -- possibly worse, since they advocate policies which attack our fundamental rights and freedoms for private profit.

Re:And (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42580185)

Anyone who uses the term "left leaning" sounds like a McCarthyite neo-fascist from the 1950s, which is to say a conservative.

Re:And (5, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 2 years ago | (#42570627)

What is YOUR point? It is good to call out tactics like this no matter who is pulling them, whether its one kind of government or another, or a corporation. That Hanoi occupies so weak a PR position they need to hire people to attack critics says a lot about their strength as a country. Don't get me wrong, where we find these tactics being deployed at home - the very same conclusions apply. That shouldn't stop us from calling them out. I *would* stop short of saying everyone out there does the same, sans evidence.

Re:And (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42570747)

Correct.

Calling these astroturfers out in public by name on the web is precisely the best way to blunt their attack.
Sure they run off and create a new personality, and you have do it all over again.

If they want to discuss in civil discourse fine. Engage them and persuade them.

But if they just want to be attack dogs, name them and shame them then don't feed the trolls.

Re:And (1)

sageres (561626) | about 2 years ago | (#42577837)

Funny I did an experiment once on Huffington Post. One of the regular left-wing liberal posters have caught my eye: posting too fast and always too often. So good thing HP allows for the message history. That person was posting non-stop for 8 hours per day every day! A new post every five to ten minutes.
I am more than positive that it was one of the "paid" organizations specifically designed to shape a public opinion, and this was their representative.

The problem with the internet is that you can never put a face to the message. What you think might be a mob of people could actually be a mob of one.

Re:And (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42577921)

Or, in the case of some of these paid astroturfers, a mob posing as one.

Re:And (3, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | about 2 years ago | (#42570763)

I agree with everything you're saying, except perhaps the implication that there is no real difference between the unelected communist government of Vietnam and western democracy. Hanoi's problem isn't just a "weak PR position". They're old school tyrants plain and simple. It's not like their people have the freedom to dissent or form opposition parties.

There is a world of difference here and it's important to acknowledge that.

Re:And (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42570873)

Hanoi's problem isn't just a "weak PR position". They're old school tyrants plain and simple. It's not like their people have the freedom to dissent or form opposition parties.

If you don't think that our corporate masters want the same for us, you're not thinking.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571503)

If you own weapons then please hand them in before your paranoia develops further into psychosis.

Re:And (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42571569)

If you own weapons then please hand them in before your paranoia develops further into psychosis.

If you have the courage of your convictions then please log in before you give me directives.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42574981)

uh if he's convinced you're a paranoid nutter who shouldn't be owning weapons he shouldn't be giving you too much info about himself.

Re:And (2)

aurispector (530273) | about 2 years ago | (#42574243)

You have to admit that there is a world of difference between western democracy, no matter how flawed, and they types of tyrannical regimes as seen in Vietnam. I wouldn't put them in the same category as Iran and North Korea as exporters of tyranny but the point still stands - opposition is not allowed.

The other thing is that you can't do is pretend that there will ever be a perfect government. Corrupt influences exist regardless of they kind of government you have. The best you can do is design the government with checks and balances to resist those influences. It's not like passing laws magically makes bad things go away. Recall the quote attributable to Churchill - "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all of the others".

And it's only as good as long as people actively participate. Benjamin Franklin Quote: "Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

In places like Vietnam there is no way to actively participate in government except by supporting the ruling party and status quo.

Re:And (1, Insightful)

Fjandr (66656) | about 2 years ago | (#42571073)

Yes. In the West there's the illusion of choice. Makes people so much more accepting of unelected power-brokers.

Re:And (0)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#42571297)

In the West there's the illusion of choice. Makes people so much more accepting of unelected power-brokers.

There is a pretty strong argument that democracy has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with protecting the powerful from the effects of violent revolution.

Re:And (2)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 2 years ago | (#42571343)

Make that argument, don't just reference it. I think representative democracy as it stands in the US now fits that description, but it needn't. We can change it for the better.

Re:And (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#42571819)

Make that argument, don't just reference it. I think representative democracy as it stands in the US now fits that description, but it needn't.

Explain why you think it, don't just say it. Hypocrite.

Re:And (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42571469)

There is a pretty strong argument that democracy has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with protecting the powerful from the effects of violent revolution.

Even if you don't believe in such a notion as inherent rights you can believe that giving people rights can make a violent revolution less likely. Thus, everyone's needs can be addressed. Unfortunately, it seems that the threat of revolution is not being taken sufficiently seriously.

Re:And (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42580299)

Democracy is by definition a compromise. One thing it does is allow a compromise between the rich and powerful minority and the poor and weak majority, with the former giving up some of their money and power in the form of paying taxes towards society's greater good and allowing legislation preventing slavery and so on, and the latter agreeing not to string the former up from lampposts every few years when their lives become intolerable.

The concept of "inherent rights" is meaningless when you have no power to stop , or recourse against, someone exploiting or killing you.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571517)

That's presuming the existence of a false dichotomy between choice / no choice.

Re:And (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 2 years ago | (#42573541)

Well, that's the thing. If the government there actually sees the need for astroturfers instead of just sending some thugs to the dissidents, it cannot be as bad as you describe.

Re:And (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42580241)

I agree with everything you're saying, except perhaps the implication that there is no real difference between the unelected communist government of Vietnam and western democracy. Hanoi's problem isn't just a "weak PR position". They're old school tyrants plain and simple. It's not like their people have the freedom to dissent or form opposition parties.

There is a world of difference here and it's important to acknowledge that.

If they have no freedom at all, why does the government waste time using shills to shout them down? There must be some sort of conversation going on involving government criticism, or else the government wouldn't feel they were being criticised.

And no, that is not a defence of the Vietnamese government or a statement that the Vietnamese people are as free as those in the West.

Re:And (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 years ago | (#42572369)

Actually it says a lot about their strength. They publicly admit to doing unlike all those others who lie about it. Who hide behind misleading names, who hire thousands of people to tell lies.

Of course the reality of the internet bites back. Are we up to a trillion pages yet? So many pages no matter how hard you try with your trolling, you disappear unless there is real long term interest. All you can really end up doing is driving interest in the subject not your particular viewpoint and that given time pretty much always ends up backfiring. Too much interest, generates to many questions, which drives a whole bunch of research which inevitably uncovers the truth.

Re:And (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570637)

Do you really think our western democratic political parties are not doing the exact same thing - even if they refer to them as marketing consultants or something similar?
I have sure noticed that some topics on various news sites and forums attract *immediate* right-wing commentary denigrating whatever the article is about.
I expect every political party out there is doing something similar. After all politics is more about appearance than substance these days.

I agree. It is obvious that western 'democracy' has a lot of money to fund people that are willing to go online to debate. The more money, the more people online.

Personally I think the Vietnamese Communist Party are very welcome on the internet. If they can argue their case for the public, they should be welcomed to do so, as this is the foundation of democracy. They will also read opposing views...

I really believe more communication is good for mankind. Memes will spread.

Do good.

Re:And (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42571223)

The problem is... the Communist Party ISN'T reading opposing views, they're hiring or employing people to write their message in response or as an author. They have talking points to get out, they aren't there to engage in a conversation with you, they're there to oppose you, and they will do so beyond any point where you would have made your case to someone with an open mind.

For all we know, the people they have doing their online shilling already know that they are handing out lies and half-truths. They probably just want to get paid. It may be cynicism, amorality, or simple economic need on their part. Perhaps some of them are true believers in Communism, but I would not be surprised if none of them were.

Re:And (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#42571685)

and they will do so beyond any point where you would have made your case to someone with an open mind.

Where are these people with an open mind? They certainly don't frequent internet comment areas. Heck, look at Slashdot - It's cause for celebration once every 6 months or so when someone actually says: "Yes, good point, you've changed my opinion." Other than that, it's just contradiction.

(The full half hour).

Re:And (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42580319)

Heck, look at Slashdot - It's cause for celebration once every 6 months or so when someone actually says: "Yes, good point, you've changed my opinion." Other than that, it's just contradiction.

I agree. Wait...

Re:And (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42585975)

I admit, my postulated person with an open mind was strictly a theoretical case. Point being, there's no real up side to these sorts of astroturfers on a discussion site, even beyond the fact that everyone else is just talking at each other. One wonders why the commies are even bothering.

Re:And (2)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#42570645)

A lot of companies are, too. Hell, a university I used to be affiliated with had someone in the communications department editing its professors' Wikipedia articles. This kind of stuff is everywhere!

Re:And (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570817)

As long as they kept the edits to the strictly factual, I wouldn't necessarily oppose that.

Points of controversy would be another story, but the facts of employment, publication, awards, would be fair enough game.

Re:And (0)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 2 years ago | (#42570701)

After all politics is more about appearance than substance these days.

I was with you until until the end there. Then I abandoned your myopic, amnesiac, alzheimer's afflicted ass.

Re:And (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42570725)

I like how you mention "right-wing commentary denigrating whatever the article is about" then make a half hearted effort to affect fairness with the whimpy "expect every political party out there is doing something similar" line.

Well played sir. You have a promising career in astroturfing.

Re:And (4, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | about 2 years ago | (#42570845)

Well, ok, what I posted was slanted. I am sure that left-wing political parties and interest groups are just as likely to be doing the same thing.
The problem is I am left-wing generally, so I don't notice much of the commentary that I agree with or which seems sensible to me, as much as I notice the stuff that I *personally* consider to be right-wing batshit crazy.
I was not however being even handed in my response, you are correct.

My point was that this article is pointing out the Vietnamese Communist party is using these tactics, and this seems to suggest an air of "oh how low-down and despicable" of them, when I am fairly certain that either our western political parties - or "advocacy groups" on their behalf are doing the same thing.

It seems particularly noticeable on CNN to me. Whenever Obama is mentioned, a ton of posts seem to try to redirect the readers to a different but unrelated topic, usually by massive trolling and racial insults. Now, perhaps this is just reflective of the readership on CNN, or the American people in general but it seems very consisten and very immediate.

Caveat: I am Canadian, and I am *absolutely* sure that our current Prime Minister's Conservative party would do this, they have already been caught cheating with their finances in multiple ridings and elections, and we had a huge robo-call scandal in the last election where people pretending to represent the Liberal Part (that's middle of the road politically mind you, not left wing) and the New Democratic party (they are also pretty middle of the road these days but used to be more left-wing) called voters to tell them that their poling stations had moved (to addresses that didn't exist, were the wrong location etc), deliberately trying to ensure that those supporting their opposition parties had less chances to vote. It all got blamed on 1 unauthorized staffer of course, but since it involved thousands of phone calls this seems rather unlikely.

Astroturfing articles that are critical of your political belief seems almost guaranteed as a tactic these days, here in the west, not just in foreign communist countries.

Re:And (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42571337)

Your point is well taken in regard to trying to restore even handedness to your posting, but I'm interested in why the response to a discovery that the Vietnamese are astroturfing means that we need to point out that everyone else does.

If astroturfing is bad, it seems to me that we should be decrying that Vietnam is doing it. When an article comes out that the Republicans, Democrats, Tories, Labour, etc are doing it, we should decry their use of it. To me, pointing out that other people do it comes off as minimizing their actions.

Obviously, if someone is saying that the West is so much better in that regard than Vietnam, at that point I could see the need to point out that the difference is smaller than most people might be comfortable with.

The other thing I take issue with is the use of the word democracy in quotes. You're implying that there exists some form of purer democracy out there. I don't think that's really true. Having a people controlled by the media or parties is 100% a valid solution of democratic government. As long as you have one person, one vote, and the vote is secret and counted properly, in combination with actual free speech, there's little more you have to do, or even can do, to make your government democratic.

When it comes down to it, democracy doesn't mean that the electorate are intelligent, well-informed, or even willing to be either of them, it is merely a system for producing governmental legitimacy by ensuring that at least lip service is given to the concerns of the majority. In it's own way, it is much better than just about every other system we've tried, but it is still flawed.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571911)

When some other government does something bad we have basically no power to fix it no matter how much awareness there is. When our government does something bad, we do have the ability to fix it. Thus putting our own failings first is useful. "My country, right or wrong. If right, to be kept right, if wrong to be set right."

Having a people controlled by the media or parties is 100% a valid solution of democratic government.

That's a utilitarian definition that does not live up to the ideals commonly associated with democracy. Giving up on the discussion of political ideals to strive for is a bad thing because a country without ideals is a country that never develops.

Re:And (1)

marnues (906739) | about 2 years ago | (#42572235)

As far as I'm concerned, as an American, the entire point of reading the article is to give me a new perspective on my leaders. I have no context for how this affects Vietnam or it's people. I can make brash assumptions about Vietnam's Orwellian society or whatever, but I have no skin in that game. I do not keep track of the pros and cons of world governments, especially not one as unimportant to my life as Vietnam.

Where this does affect me is allowing my eyes to open to similar abuses around me. Where before I was not outraged at an Identity Protection Agency keeping tabs on Congress-critter Brightbottom's online persona, now I will be giving Brightbottom's people a sharp talking. This can leak into my psyche and change how I view an online persona. Perhaps I've had no opinion about this topic. I am annoyed by propaganda and begin investigating the topic. I read up on the Identity Protection Agency that Brightbottom employs and learn that such antics are generally unimportant, so I can ignore this as just another futile sign of weakened power.

Re:And (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 2 years ago | (#42570809)

I completely agree. There is not a "side" out there without trolls. Ever since atheist news groups started getting run over by christian trolls the net has had shills for all sides of every argument.

Re:And (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#42570835)

well.. it depends how you're paid and where you're shilling and how if it's equivalent to this.

though in the west you'll find plenty of free shills - after all special interest groups etc have normal people supporting their goals too usually, sometimes they're stupid eeeediots but they're people too. and even in russia Putin has plenty of real fans who think he's doing excellent job and will beat up anyone who thinks otherwise, without getting paid. these are legitimate opinions. lot's of employees of companies like MS do actively engage in what can be called shilling online as well, but that's also sort of legitimate, after all many of those ARE fans of the company. so are party members in free countries... after all, if they wholly support the ideas they're trying to boost on blogs and commentaries, why wouldn't they be a party member? they don't have to be a party member nor do they get any benefit from it generally, unlike countries where party members are a select group and get considerable benefits from that - after all most political parties in the west usually accept any member.

and in finland we have people from the police blogging and being active in the social media defending the established policies(which is bullshit, the police shouldn't decide those yet they in practice are) - but it's official and labeled as such. there's plenty of wanabe politicians from all parties blogging too - this being in fact increasingly the way for how it's even established what political goals a party has.

if you're running a dictatorship it's harder to find such fans to do it for free and you're likely to be willing to spend resources on pure propaganda on every level(remember the simpsons where bart joins a boy band? dictatorships tend to try everything from subluminal to superluminal), not because it's effective but because they have an office and a career path on coming up with that shit and the effectiveness is impossible to measure, after all having shills on the street corners is an old tactic too. easiest job in the world really to be a shill blogger, you don't run risk of getting stabbed by the mob even as you do if you're shilling at a street protest trying to make people go home and people get wise of what you are.

but when you read about someone from a really well known shithole like pakistan commenting on somewhere how they're really an advanced nation you kinda get the bullshit radar spike up really easily. so just take bullshit as bullshit(if someone from pakistan is reading this, it just means that you're spending time lynching people on dubious reasons whilst having people starving and have selective rule of law, ridiculous child mortality rate and so forth which qualifies a country as a shithole, you don't like it? do something about it and doing something about it doesn't equal to just bullshitting about how some extremely limited area of the country is quite western and doesn't have lynchings, at least often).

anyhow, a shill knows he's spewing bullshit. a fan is just a fan.

Re:And Corporations (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 2 years ago | (#42570901)

Not just political parties. Many major tech companies have a large presence on Reddit and other forums to quickly "influence" potential adverse or advantageous posts. When there are millions of viewers, it's worth a lot of money to sway opinions.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571119)

No, We just have alot of right wing assholes with no lives of their own.

Since i live in the usa i know this to be true.

Either way, you can't really call them paid shills. Since they actually DO believe the insane shit they say.

Re:And (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#42571235)

Do you really think our western democratic political parties are not doing the exact same thing - even if they refer to them as marketing consultants or something similar?

Do you really think every single corporation in the Fortune 500 doesn't do exactly the same thing - even if they refer to them as "new media consultants" or something similar?

It's chicken-and-the-egg. People say they want government to "run like a business" but they really don't. In fact, most of us don't even want businesses to be run like businesses, circa 2013.

Re:And (1)

hutsell (1228828) | about 2 years ago | (#42571915)

... where do I apply for one of these blog-shilling jobs--getting paid cash for troll posting comments on the Internet all day. Sounds kind of sweet, especially if it's a living wage.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42572495)

Vietnam (or insert any country with internet access) Admits Deploying Bloggers

I'll make this succinct: DUUUH?

I also heard that fish swim, and birds fly.

Re:And (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42575485)

Do you really think our western democratic political parties are not doing the exact same thing - even if they refer to them as marketing consultants or something similar?

What a lame argument purporting to be sophisticated. Typical lefty moral equivalence crap.

Western spin is a far cry from the propaganda pushed out by these political organizations because there is accountability and a free press and a host of voices that provide counter arguments.

Sheesh.... it should be mandatory for all Americans to live in one or other despotic regime for five years before making such inane comments. Truly a case of 'they know not that they know not'.

Re:And (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42580343)

Western spin is a far cry from the propaganda pushed out by these political organizations because there is accountability and a free press and a host of voices that provide counter arguments.

LOL, you're a funny guy.

Propaganda Department, you say . . . ? (1, Offtopic)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#42570607)

Well, isn't that them doing their job then, to spread propaganda?

As to the Education part, well, they're thinking of the children, as well. You know, filling their propaganda needs . . . ?

At least it's not Re-Education any more. That was nasty, to say the least.

Re:Propaganda Department, you say . . . ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570857)

At least it's not Re-Education any more. That was nasty, to say the least.

The propaganda works!

This is NO TRUTH (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570615)

Socialist Republic of Vietnam has no need for so called propaganda campaign. Evidence of lies from Western capitalist press. Socialist Republic of Vietnam for peace and friendship for all peoples but above all for workers. Slashdot.com part of technics to attack Socialist Republic of Vietnam in public opinion courts.

Re:This is NO TRUTH (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42584759)

Is Vietnam even socialist any more?

Vietnamese Communist Party.... (4, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | about 2 years ago | (#42570639)

...more candid than Microsoft!? Wow...

it works (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570657)

it worked for Obama

Spy agency ASIO wants powers to hack into PCs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570721)

Spy agency ASIO wants powers to hack into personal computers

Natasha Bita, National Social Editor / News Limited Network / January 13, 2013 12:00AM

http://www.news.com.au/technology/spy-agency-asio-wants-powers-to-hack-into-personal-computers/story-e6frfro0-1226552661701 [news.com.au]

"SPY agency ASIO[1] wants to hack into Australians' personal computers and commandeer their smartphones to transmit viruses to terrorists.

The Attorney-General's Department is pushing for new powers for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to hijack the computers of suspected terrorists.

But privacy groups are attacking the ''police state'' plan as ''extraordinarily broad and intrusive''.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General's Department said it was proposing that ASIO be authorised to ''use a third party computer for the specific purpose of gaining access to a target computer''.

''The purpose of this power is to allow ASIO to access the computer of suspected terrorists and other security interests,'' he told News Limited.

''(It would be used) in extremely limited circumstances and only when explicitly approved by the Attorney-General through a warrant.

''Importantly, the warrant would not authorise ASIO to obtain intelligence material from the third party computer.''

The Attorney-General's Department refused to explain yesterday how third-party computers would be used, ''as this may divulge operationally sensitive information and methods used by ASIO in sensitive national security investigations.''

But cyber specialist Andrew Pam, a board member of the Electronic Frontiers lobby group, predicted ASIO could copy the tactics of criminal hackers to seize control of target computers.

Australians' personal computers might be used to send a malicious email with a virus attached, or to load ''malware'' onto a website frequently visited by the target.

''This stuff goes on already in the commercial and criminal world, and security agencies could be using the same techniques to commandeer people's computers and use them to monitor a target,'' Mr Pam said.

''Once you get control of a computer and connect to their network you can do whatever you want.''

The ASIO Act now bans spies from doing anything that ''adds, deletes or alters data or interferes with, interrupts or obstructs the lawful use of the target computer by other persons''.

But ASIO wants the ban lifted, so Attorney-General Nicola Roxon can issue a warrant for spies to secretly intercept third-party computers to disrupt their target.

The departmental spokesman said the federal government had made ''no decisions'' about whether to grant ASIO the new power.

The government would first consider advice from the federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is reviewing national security legislation.

Victoria's acting Privacy Commissioner, Dr Anthony Bendall, has told the committee that ASIO's proposed new powers are ''characteristic of a police state.''

''To access a third party's computer, which has no connection with the target, is extraordinarily broad and intrusive,'' his submission states.

But the Attorney-General's Department insists that ASIO will not examine the content of third-party computers.

''The use of the third party computer is essentially like using a third party premises to gain access to the premises to be searched, where direct access is not possible,'' it states in response to questions from the committee.

''It involves no power to search or conduct surveillance on the third party.''

The department said technological advances had made it ''increasingly difficult'' for ASIO to execute search warrants directly on target computers, ''particularly where a person of interest is security conscious.''

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O'Gorman yesterday said ASIO should have to seek a warrant from an independent judge, rather than a politician.

He warned that ASIO might be able to spy on individuals - including journalists protecting a whistleblower - by tapping into their computers.

''I'm concerned they will access all sorts of information on a computer that has nothing to do with terrorism,'' he said."

===
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Security_Intelligence_Organisation [wikipedia.org]
        http://www.asio.gov.au/ [asio.gov.au]

Viets learned about astroturfing from watching M$ (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about 2 years ago | (#42570749)

Microsoft and their sleazy PR outfit invented 'astroturfing' and used it with great effectiveness to advance their agenda. It's only to be expected, then, that communist governments would turn to astroturfing as a more-effective form of the propaganda they have always relied on as a substitute for truth, honesty, and fairness.

Re:Viets learned about astroturfing from watching (2)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | about 2 years ago | (#42573497)

So soon do the young forget. MS wasn't the first, Big tobacco was doing it in the 50s already, Rockefeller was doing it for kerosene in the 1800s. Edison did it for direct current back then.

It's called propaganda... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570757)

What's newsworthy about this post is not that various states engage in internet propaganda (through bloggers/commenters), but that Vietnam is the first country to be transparent enough to admit it. Hell, propaganda always existed, Internet is just another medium.

Communists and Corporation Have This in Common (4, Interesting)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 2 years ago | (#42570827)

If you have spare time, go to the Wikipedia page of your favorite (however defined) corporation. Click "View history". Find the top five contributors and do a WHOIS on their IPs. Now, compare this to the locations of offices owned by your favorite corporation. It can be rather entertaining.

Re:Communists and Corporation Have This in Common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570925)

I like your style.

Re:Communists and Corporation Have This in Common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571409)

If you have spare time, go to the Wikipedia page of your favorite (however defined) corporation. Click "View history". Find the top five contributors and do a WHOIS on their IPs. Now, compare this to the locations of offices owned by your favorite corporation. It can be rather entertaining.

How is that even REMOTELY unusual or unexpected? Everyone here would do the same for their own personal pages.

In expected things, entertainment's in the details (4, Informative)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about 2 years ago | (#42571741)

I didn't say it was either unusual or unexpected; I said it was entertaining. Regardless, the criticism you offer applies equally well to TFA as well. That doesn't make how they do it uninteresting.

Let me give an example to illustrate. I once looked up a certain Fortune 500 company on Wikipedia. I'll call it Jonesing for Capital Industries, or JCI for short, to protect its identity. (Full disclosure: I looked at their page quite some time ago, and it looks like much of it has been changed since then--who knows what has transpired since?) Back when I checked JCI's page, most of it clearly read as corporate propaganda, the kind of thing that isn't remotely unusual or unexpected. Frankly, I don't really find the encomia corporations write about themselves all that troubling. They're perfectly transparent and, as you say, what else would you expect? What was unexpected was the section that appeared on the page about controversies JCI had been involved in. Not that I didn't know the corporation had been involved in controversies--most have--but what impressed me was that this wasn't removed wholesale from their Wiki page.

As I looked more carefully, however, I noticed that anytime a claim was made against them an edit would be made by the same anon IP, or another IP from the same town. The edit, if I recall correctly, would come during regular working hours. Most often it wouldn't remove note of the controversy (many of these things are too public) but would change the wording around. Problems with activities the company engaged in became things people said the company did. Simple factual claims in the indicative were made into hearsay. An article cited against the company would be accompanied by another article cited in favor of the company as though both claims were equal. Of course, it's always good to give both sides of the story but that's not quite what was going on here. What was going on is a journalistic tactic/fallacy called false equivalence. It's often employed to great effect by climate change skeptics.

In my view, this is quite interesting because it makes us aware some broader risks with Wikipedia's model. Companies have full-time staff to edit their pages and control their image. But because of Wikipedia's neutrality standards, equivalence, even if it is false, will always be favored over journalistic discrimination. I'm not suggesting that Wikipedia should do otherwise--it isn't a newspaper editorial board after all and those who write for it aren't journalists. What I do suggest, however, is that we pay attention to these seemingly mundane facts, not merely dismissing them as expected, and use them to encourage ourselves to look critically even when we're presented with 'two sides' to a story.

Re:Communists and Corporation Have This in Common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42573027)

I'm a communist. Please don't tar me with the same brush as present-day Vietnam.

opposition (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570905)

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Re:opposition (-1)

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USSR did it first (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570933)

Back in 30's and 40's, a lot of US artists were in the payroll of the Stalin's KGB.

http://www.amazon.com/Red-Star-Over-Hollywood-Colonys/dp/1594031460/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

http://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Party-Communism-American-Industry/dp/0761513760/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Later, the same tactics took place, but then operated by other communist countries. CIA had its artists too, but in much less number and budget.

Re:USSR did it first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42573059)

That's generally a shrill, McCarthyite myth.

In the case of the products on Amazon there, it's a shrill, McCarthyite myth turned into cash cow, and you're a fool for believing it.

Re:USSR did it first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42576259)

No, it's not. There are a lot of eastern sources, including very reliable KGB defectors that confirmed the USSR influence ($$$) in the pre-50's show business.

Sounds like some posters on slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42570969)

"where they fiercely attack anybody who they see as critical of the regime."

What do you think MSNBC is? (1, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#42571013)

Seriously, are you awake?

Re:What do you think MSNBC is? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571335)

and especially FOX, ABC and CNN as well

Re:What do you think MSNBC is? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571395)

It's really quite impressive how the media works in the US. They're all on the same side, just using different talking points to convince different people. The end result is the same.

Just like Microsoft and Apple (0)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#42571031)

So, just like Microsoft and Apple. How can you tell the difference between one morally bankrupt organization and another?

Re:Just like Microsoft and Apple (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#42571407)

To be specific, I am referring to the fact that both Apple and Microsoft employ astroturfers to post material favorable to themselves on community sites. Just like morally bankrupt communists. Do you wish me to be more specific? (Just show up with some more spinmod points and I will oblige.)

Re:Just like Microsoft and Apple (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42572237)

To be specific, I am referring to the fact that both Apple and Microsoft employ astroturfers to post material favorable to themselves on community sites. Just like morally bankrupt communists. Do you wish me to be more specific? (Just show up with some more spinmod points and I will oblige.)

Well, that's because Android is a thorn in the side of Apple, and Android on a desktop scares the crap out of Microsoft.

Obligatory pedantry (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#42571191)

I believe the word is "polemicist" not "polemist" (which, incidentally, my iPadcwants to change to "pole mist").

Re:Obligatory pedantry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571613)

I believe the word is "polemicist" not "polemist" (which, incidentally, my iPadcwants to change to "pole mist").

That's because IPads arecdumb.

Re:Obligatory pedantry (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#42586335)

Actually I thought that was a funny response, given my typo!

Re:Obligatory pedantry (1)

mevets (322601) | about 2 years ago | (#42572015)

mmmm pole mist.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571389)

Why. when the American and European left will do it for them, free?

Re:Why? (0)

Marxdot (2699183) | about 2 years ago | (#42573037)

Excuse me, did you just suggest that the US actually has a left?

Wait a minute... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42571495)

That doesn't sound any different than a fanboi...

They have to pay? (1)

jasonditz (597385) | about 2 years ago | (#42571547)

I'm shocked any regime has to hire shills to blog about how glorious they are. It seems like most nations have enough jingoist idiots to do that gratis.

"That's not a knife..." (2)

fullback (968784) | about 2 years ago | (#42571607)

The U.S. government has 'em beat -- they've had the TV, newspaper and movie industries in their back pocket for a generation.

Commie tactics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42572279)

So Communists are using propaganda now? Well, thanks for the heads up.

BBC blocked from Vietnam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42573337)

Typing this from Vietnam. The BBC link, or domain for that matter, appears to be blocked. Had to go through a proxy to view it.

Full of commie win... (1)

guevera (2796207) | about 2 years ago | (#42573629)

I love that there is such a thing as the head of the Hanoi Propaganda and Education Department. That makes my day. Don't they know you never actually name your propaganda department the Propaganda Department? I'm pretty sure it was covered in Running a Dictatorship of the Proletariat for Dummies.

Communism = Death (1)

hessian (467078) | about 2 years ago | (#42574341)

I realize it's unpopular to like what we have in the West, and most people express this with fawning adoration for its opposites, but I beg to differ.

Communism sucks in every way.

It doesn't work politically, it sabotages the intellectual and moral will of the population, and it even fails economically, wherever it is tried.

I'm sure the VC are trying hard to cover up their failures with propaganda. It's what they always do. And yet, that means collapse is right around the corner.

It'll be interesting to see the USA granted a late victory in this war.

Re:Communism = Death (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42580363)

It'll be interesting to see the USA granted a late victory in this war.

Oh, for fuck's sake, give it up Rambo. You lost.

Strange moral calculus, isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42580683)

"Look! They're locking their children in dark closets."

"Come on, we all ground our children, so we can't ctiticize."

hmm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42591117)

is this news just because its in vietnam? it's pretty common.

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