Vietnam’s Pirate Site Blocklist Quietly Adds Torrent Sites

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Vietnam has become a focal point in the international battle against online piracy. Rightsholders have repeatedly spurred on the government to take action and while grave concerns remain, Vietnam has recently expanded its site-blocking efforts by targeting popular torrent sites.

vietnam wall flagIn recent years, Hollywood has played close attention to major pirate sites and services with connections to Vietnam.

Representing rightsholders, MPA and ACE visited Vietnam last year to discuss piracy-related challenges with local authorities.

The focus on Vietnam resulted in some progress. Anti-piracy coalition ACE previously shut down popular video piracy library 2Embed following negotiations with its Hanoi-based operator. Anime piracy giant fell too, although that one continues under new branding, supposedly with a fresh team of operators.

It’s clear, however, that Vietnam has Hollywood’s full attention. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is aware of the challenges too, as made clear in the most recent Special 301 Report.

“In particular, online piracy, including the use of illicit streaming devices and associated piracy applications to access unauthorized audiovisual content, remains a significant concern,” USTR wrote.

Vietnam’s Blocking Efforts

While some believe that Vietnam’s copyright enforcement arsenal is below par, the country does have a weapon the U.S. lacks. Site blocking is commonplace and widespread in the south-Asian country.

The Vietnamese authorities are actively ordering site-blocking measures of varying degrees. Best known, perhaps, is the government’s crackdown on gambling sites, which are deemed illegal in the country.

More recently, however, sites have also been blocked for copyright infringement. A few months ago we highlighted that 1,000 domains were blocked for this reason in just 12 months.

Interestingly, many of the larger movie and TV show streaming sites escaped this early wave. Blocking efforts mostly targeted live sports streaming sites, while other categories were left untouched. At least, for the time being.

More Pirate Site Blockades

Earlier this month, the Vietnamese authorities, in ‘coordination’ with ISPs, appear to have broadened their scope. There are reports of multiple torrent sites being blocked now, which TorrentFreak confirmed with a local resident.

Names that are mentioned include anime site, torrent indexers TorrentGalaxy and 1337x, as well as the game release site FitGirl-Repacks.

While results may vary between ISPs, our information suggests that a blocking notification isn’t always shown. Sites simply become unreachable, with the DNS for some pointing to; effectively null routing the connection attempt.


There is no mention of these new blocking efforts in local media that we’re aware of. However, several people are discussing these and other problems on the Vietnamese forum VOZ.

“Can anyone download on Fitgirl without having to turn on VPN? Even when I get the 1337x link, it won’t let me download it, it’s completely blocked,” one user writes, with others confirming the problem.

In other threads, similar blocking problems are discussed by VOZ users, all fairly recently.

Recognized Threat

To find out more, we reached out to Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication, requesting more details on this apparent new blocking wave. Unfortunately, however, we didn’t hear back.

Jan van Voorn, head of the anti-piracy group ACE, has experience with Vietnam and informs us that the authorities have blocked quite a few sites over the past several months.

Van Voorn further notes that ISPs have a commercial interest in blocking pirate sites and calls on the government to tackle local piracy syndicates

“Content is becoming an important business model for the major ISPs in Vietnam. From our numerous meetings with them, it is apparent that they recognize the need to protect that content,” Van Voorn tells us.

“It is hoped that the Vietnamese government will also recognize the need to protect both local and international content rather than allow Vietnamese piracy syndicates to enrich themselves from this illegal act.”

These syndicates would include Fmovies, according to ACE’s definitions. Interestingly, however, that popular movie streaming site isn’t blocked by Vietnamese ISPs, according to our source.

Transparency and Overblocking

Unfortunately, there’s not much transparency around the current pirate site blocking efforts in Vietnam. This makes it hard to get confirmation or provide an overview of all the sites that are blocked.

The lack of transparency also makes it hard for the public at large to know what’s going on. If a site is inaccessible, without a blocking notice, it remains guesswork whether it’s downtime, technical problems, or an ISP blockade. Needless to say, this also makes it harder to spot overblocking incidents.

For the gambling-related blocks, blocking is easier to spot. Visitors will see a banner, such as the one that’s shown below, which includes the following warning.

“Participating in gambling is a violation of the law. […] The police will save this access log for collection and processing! All information is sent to the police for investigation.”


This is a stark warning that should make prospective gamblers rethink their options. And not just gamblers either. Zooming in on the banner above shows that visitors to the popular GameFAQs website are blocked too.

We would like to say that targeting GameFAQs can be classified as overblocking but, then again, that’s a gamble.

Flag image credit.


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