Global Information Technology & Communications
Developments in IT/C Law in Vietnam over the last 9 months
Less than a year ago, Vietnamese authorities stepped up their efforts to regulate the ITC space in Vietnam, releasing six major legal instruments or drafts over a nine month period. These regulations reveal Vietnamese authorities’ two-pronged approach of improving tax revenue collection from online activities and moderating Internet content that is available to users in Vietnam.
Along the way, authorities raised the prospect of regulating cross-border on-line activities, imposing local server requirements, notification and registration requirements on some Internet business, micro-managing Internet content and enlisting Internet companies to assist them with regulating online content. Important questions remain, for example, to what extent do the new requirements of these regulations apply to off-shore entities, are they compatible with Vietnam’s World Trade Organization Commitments and how will they be enforced in practice?
The following is a brief summary of the most important developments in Vietnamese IT/C law over the past year:
● E-Commerce Decree, Decree No. 52/2013/ND-CP (effective from 1 July 2013)
- categorizes e-commerce websites with different notification, registration and other requirements applicable to each category;
- lists acts that are newly prohibited in e-commerce; and
- contains provisions to support the validity of on-line contracts, protect data privacy, regulate website ratings, and address a number of other e-commerce related issues.
● Draft Law on Information Security (Draft under consideration by the National Assembly), proposed to be adopted in early 2014
If adopted, would:
- obligate entities to monitor the security and content of information systems they manage;
- establish broad principles of prohibited “information conflict,” based on online content, and require entities that manage information systems to monitor and prevent same;
- create new controls over the production, distribution and use of civil cipher products; and
- more tightly regulate the processing of personal information, obligating data custodians to correct personal data upon request and to notify data subjects of the collection use and processing of their information.
● Digital Signatures and Digital Signature Authentication Services in Decree No. 170/2013/ND-CP (effective from 1 January 2014)
- authorizes the acceptance and use of foreign digital certificates;
- details the conditions and procedures for using foreign digital certificates accepted in Vietnam; and
- regulates foreign investment in e-signature authentication services in Vietnam.
● Internet Content Regulations in Decree No. 72/2013/ND-CP (effective from 1 September 2013)
- requires certain foreign entities that supply “public information” on a cross-border basis to comply with relevant (content and other) rules of Vietnamese law;
- establishes local server requirements for online social networks, general information websites, mobile telecoms network based content services and online games services (unclear whether applicable to cross-border providers);
- requires foreign service suppliers of online games to establish enterprises in Vietnam;
- establishes licensing/registration requirements and conditions applicable for online social networks, general information websites and online game services; and
- increases data privacy protections and protects private information belonging to organizations.
● Cross-Border Supply of Advertising Services in Decree No. 181/2013/ND-CP (effective from 1 January 2014)
- requires foreign websites to comply with Vietnamese laws on the Internet and online information use, supply and management;
- in effect, requires foreign websites to work through local agents in order to place ads on-line for Vietnamese advertisers;
- creates notification requirements for foreign websites carrying ads for Vietnamese individuals or companies and for the Vietnamese advertising services providers that represent such foreign websites.
● Administrative Sanctions in the Information Technology and Communications Sectors in Decree No. 158/2013/ND-CP (effective from 1 January 2014), Decree No. 174/2013/ND-CP (effective from 15 January 2014), Decree No. 185/2013/ND-CP (effective from 1 January 2014)
- Decree No. 158 introduces sanctions for
- violations in the cross-border supply of advertising services; and
- violations of regulations on advertising through electronic and telecommunications devices, including spam email and text messages.
- Decree No. 174 introduces sanctions for
- violations of telecommunications and Internet regulations (e.g. anti-spam, email message services, cross-border supply of telecom services, use of domain names);
- violations relating to e-transactions, the use of e-signatures and e-certificate services;
- violations relating to data privacy and information security; and
- violations relating to the provision of online games.
- Decree No. 185 introduces sanctions for
- violations of e-commerce website regulations;
- violations pertaining to protection of information appeared on and transactions conducted on e-commerce websites (e.g. consumer’s information protection, consumer’s rights protection); and
- violations relating to data privacy in e-commerce activities.
For more information, please contact Yee Chung Seck or Andrew Fitanides.